MLB Network ratings spike during busy Winter Meetings

How often are you glued to a television watching men chat in a hotel?

If you’re like me, that’s what you did during the 2014 MLB Winter Meetings, held Dec. 7-11 at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel. But don’t feel too bad for spending hours of tube time on what many baseball outsiders may see as the TV equivalent of watching paint dry.

Since launching into our living rooms in 2008, the MLB Network has been a game changer in terms of how we get our baseball fix. It’s baseball 24 hours a day, seven days a week, a concept I couldn’t imagine while growing up in the 80s and reading box scores and game recaps in the morning newspaper.

The network offers its viewers a plethora of options from games and highlights to loads of chatter from a talented, knowledgeable and entertaining – I could listen to Billy Ripken talk all day about baseball – group of studio hosts and reporters.

MLB Network has developed a successful formula for attracting viewers and giving them a reason to put down the remote. Its live coverage of the Winter Meetings serves as a prime example.

According to Forbes’ Maury Brown, MLB Network’s primetime coverage set a new ratings high for the network by attracting 179,000 viewers, an increase of 48 percent over the previous record.

“The record speaks much to how deals that go down during the meetings, when there is so much interest, and yet often times, when the meetings yield little in terms of such critical contracts that create a domino effect, can affect television ratings,” wrote Brown on Forbes.com.

Much of the interests, as Brown notes, was the Jon Lester watch. For which team would the lefty sign and when. Would it be the Cubs? Or, the World Series Champion Giants? How about a return to Boston? There was even talk the Yankees were lurking, waiting to swoop in at the right moment.

That’s a lot of drama, even for night-time TV.

I’m not a fan of any of the teams that were reported to be targeting Lester at the time, but being a baseball fan, I wanted to know the minute he committed to a team, a city. I knew MLB Network had us covered.

And sure enough, when I hoped out of bed at 4:45 a.m. Wednesday and turned on the television – the channel was still, of course, on MLB Network from my previous night’s viewing – I saw in a little red box on the bottom right of my screen that Lester had indeed agreed to be a Cubbie.

“Yes,” I said with a half-hearted fist pump. As I said, I’m not a Cubs fan, but I was excited for their fans, one of which is my 9-year old son, Ty.

But it wasn’t just Lester drawing us in. This was one of the most active Winter Meetings, in terms of players swapping teams, in recent memory. Free agent signings, trades and persistent rumors of both types of transactions left us feeling like we couldn’t turn away from MLB Network.

I couldn’t.

Being a Nationals’ fan, my ears perked up even more when there was talk of my team potentially making a trade that would “blow the roof off this place.”

According to MLB.com, 79 players – 15 of those were All-Stars – changed teams during the 2014 Winter Meetings through free agency, trades or the Rule 5 Draft.

“Teams handed out more than $500 million in guaranteed contracts and signing bonuses this week in deals that either became official or were agreed upon at the Winter Meetings,” MLB.com reported after the meetings broke up.

The Winter Meetings were gold, and so was MLB Network. It provided us baseball enthusiasts with the ability sit in our living rooms and man caves and track the hot stove league in front of, to paraphrase Homer Simpson, “TV’s warm glowing warming glow.”

Vin Scully is Coming Back for a 66th Season!

Vin Scully
Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully will return to broadcast for a 66th season in 2015, the team announced on Tuesday night. (h/t SBNation.com)

Good lord, how did we become so blessed?

At least this will give TWC and the various LA cable operators—and Congress?!—another year to hammer out an arbitrated deal so that everyone in the Los Angeles market can actually enjoy the dulcet tones and exquisite stories of Vin Sully.

Read all about it here:

Vin Scully to return to broadcast Dodgers games in 2015 (SBNation.com)

Fox Reports Tiger Games Have Highest Ratings in the Market

Fox Sports Detroit reports that since the beginning of the season on March 31, the average household rating for Tigers games is 7.5, which means that 7.5% of all the household with televisions in the Detroit DMA (i.e., TV market) are tuned to the Tigers game.

In prime time, the rating goes up to 8.4, which is 71% higher than WDIV (NBC), in second place with a 4.9.

For a city routinely called “Hockeytown”, that’s pretty amazing, and also pretty great.

Read more here:

Tigers telecasts on FSD dominate summer TV ratings

MLB Network Numbers Highest Ever, Even as Game Numbers Go Down

In contrast to actual game broadcasts, the viewership for MLB Network has never been better.

The Awful Announcing blog reports that overall ratings for MLBN during Q2 2014 was the highest ever, averaging 206,000 viewers during primetime (Monday to Sunday 800pm to 1100pm Eastern) and 105,000 on average all day.  (The primetime number is larger than the all day number because the figures represent number of viewers for an average quarter hour, and not the total number who tuned in during the whole time period.)

The author of the post speculates that it is diehards who are driving up all-day MLB Network viewing, while game broadcasts viewership is down because it is casual fans who are abandoning those.  There might be something to that, but I wonder whether it’s not something more: that increasingly attention-challenged viewers are losing interest in committing to ever-lengthening game broadcasts, and instead are opting for the studio shows that summarize the sport and, during primetime, the up-to-fifteen games going on at once.  This would be especially true if your team is not one of those playing at the time—even if you’re a diehard, why commit to a game you don’t care much about when you can pop onto MLB Network and see three entertaining guys sum up things for you?

Read more here:

MLB NETWORK JUST FINISHED UP THEIR MOST-WATCHED QUARTER EVER

 

MLB on Fox Ratings Crash

The Yankees and Red Sox can’t play every week, to the chagrin of the people in charge of the MLB on Fox broadcast, and Fox paid for it with a 1.6 overnight HH rating.  That’s down some -30% from the 2.3 the game between the Two Evil Empires generated the week before.

That 2.3 from last week is actually the only game that generated anything better than a 1.7 all year.  By contrast, all seven of the first MLB on Fox broadcasts from 2013 scored better than that 1.7.

Houston (and every other major league city), we most definitely have a problem.

Read more here:

MLB on FOX Falls Back to Earth With 1.6 Overnight

 

 

 

MLBAM is Not Just a TV Channel. It’s a Megadigitalmedia Behemoth.

Maury Brown, a writer who freelances for Forbes magazine, has written an illuminating article about Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM) in which the big reveal is that they are much more than simply the source for your MLB.TV broadcast.  They are a multibillion dollar digital media and content infrastructure company that powers some of the better known video streaming sites across the Internet.  Not only are they are into the delivery of their own baseball product, but also analytics (serving top websites such as Baseball Prospectus, Fangraphs and Baseball Reference);  infrastructure (powering Disney’s WatchESPN and Time’s 120Sports.com); and ticketing (owners of Tickets.com) as well.  Compared with other sports, they are way, way, WAY beyond the leading edge of integrating digital media into its business portfolio.

Read all about it here:

The Biggest Media Company You’ve Never Heard Of

A So-Called “Red Sox-Yankees Problem”

Joe Lucia, a writer at Awful Announcing, writes that he constantly inveighs against the practice of the various networks which carry MLB games of always featuring every Red Sox-Yankees matchups, to the degree that all nineteen matchups during the season are featured on one of the national networks.

Lucia believes this ultimately works to the detriment of the other 28 teams in that it trains viewers to treat a Red Sox-Yankees matchup as the only legitimately interesting matchup to watch.  And he has a point: ratings show that the highest rated regular season MLB matchups are Red Sox-Yankees games, and that all other matchups drop off significantly in viewership.

It’s a circular problem: Red Sox-Yankees games get the best ratings so of course they are going to be featured which hurts interest in all other matchups, but even if the networks realize and want to cure the problem, showing other matchups at the expense of Red Sox-Yankees cost them money because of lower ratings, which diminishes the value of their MLB broadcasts, so to recoup the costs and make a profit they have to show the Red Sox-Yankees games, which reinforces the training of viewers to care only about that matchup and not watch any other matchup, and so on, and so on …

So what’s the solution?  According to Lucia, maybe there isn’t one, or at least an obvious one.

Read his article here:

MLB AND THE RED SOX-YANKEES PROBLEM

Tigers TV Ratings, Still Best in the Biz, Down -17%

At some point all things plateau.  It’s anybody’s guess as to whether this truism applies to fan interest in the Detroit Tigers at the halfway point of the 2014 season.

According to Crain’s Detroit Business, Fox Sports Detroit reveals that 72 broadcasts into the season, the team is averaging a 7.53 household rating in 2014, versus 9.02 at the same point in 2013, a stunning -17% drop.  This, despite the Tigers’ record being better now (1st place, 47-34, +4½ games) than at this time last year (2nd place, 43-38, ½ game behind).  Nevertheless, Greg Hammaren, a Detroit media executive, states that the team is still on pace to lead all MLB teams in local TV ratings for at least the third straight year.

Hammaren also states that he is unsure why the ratings have gone down, although he speculates in the story that some of the loss could be attributed to the now three-week-old World Cup, which on the face of it doesn’t seem to pass the smell test, but might be possible in the spirit of “anything is possible”.

My own non-professional speculation, which I admit is coming completely out of my ear and is being offered with my Tiger fan goggles on, is that Michiganders might be getting a wee bit weary of supporting a team they’ve been hearing for years is one of the best in baseball and the leading favorites to win it all, yet who have not brought home even a single World Series title, and who couldn’t even get past an inferior Red Sox team they obviously outplayed in last year’s ALCS.  I’m just spitballing here, though …

FWIW, Comerica Park attendance is also down, by -6.2%.

Read more about it here:

Midseason report: Tigers attendance, TV ratings down from 2013

Network TV Broadcast Database is Updated Through 6/30/14

Tony Miller, our network TV broadcast expert, has updated the Network TV database through this past Monday.

You can download the updated CSV file from here:

NETWORK TV BROADCASTS

Or you can search through the table online, here on this site:

SEARCHABLE NETWORK TV BROADCASTS

The latter option may take up to a few minutes to load, depending on your Internet speed, so please be a little patient.

You can also reach these, and all other databases, from the dropdown menus along the top of every page of the site.

Here is something I learned from a search online: I typed in “Jackie Robinson” and it turns out he did color for ABC TV broadcasts in 1965, appearing on 27 broadcasts.  He worked opposite of three different PxP guys: Merle Harmon, Chris Schenkel, and Keith Jackson.

 

Providing information and historical research about how the media cover baseball both as news and as an event.

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