How To Improve TV Ratings For Nationally Televised Games

Steve Lepore is mostly an NHL media guy, writing about that pucking sport for SB Nation and Awful Announcing, as well as being a correspondent for SiriusXM radio’s NHL Network.

But Lepore does write about other sports and topics, and he has in fact recently written an article for Awful Announcing about the problem, as he sees it, that Baseball has as a national broadcast property.

Lepore proffers a cogent hypothesis as to why nationally televised baseball games continue to suffer in the ratings—e.g., ratings for one network are down double digit percents in 2014 versus last year—and makes suggestions to fix it.

It’s a good read and I would recommend giving it a look, but I can give you some spoilers here.

The two biggest problems, as Lepore sees it:

  • There are simply too many national games on TV: ESPN airs them on Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays; Fox has Saturdays; TBS has Sunday afternoons in the second half of the season; and MLB Network picks up the remaining days.  Yet in this era of game ubiquity through vehicles like MLB.TV and Extra Innings, why watch a national game with a so-so matchup over a game involving a team you actually care about?
  • Baseball has what Lepore might term a “matchups problem”, concentrating too much on both (1) showing traditional big market teams which had pulled good numbers in the past, and (2) trying to be fair and featuring as many of the 29 American teams as they can.

Lepore’s suggestions for Baseball to fix this state of affairs:

  • Dump Saturday national broadcasts, which is a relic of viewership patterns from over a half a century ago, since people simply do not watch live TV on Saturdays, period.
  • Develop exclusive national broadcast game events on Mondays and Thursdays throughout the season, with all other games played during the day, and split those nights between ESPN and Fox (or more exactly, their new FS1 property).
  • Keep schedules flexible in order to choose top matchups for those Monday and Thursday games, making the decision roughly two weeks out, rather than committing to certain games and teams at the beginning of the season, when no one knows what the color of the season is going to be.

These may not make for “must see TV”, necessarily, but Lepore believes these changes could drive better ratings than Baseball gets for nationally televised games today.

Read the full article here:

RETHINKING BASEBALL ON NATIONAL TELEVISION

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