SBD/Issue 206/Sports Media

Obama Appearance Helps Fox To 10.4/18 Overnight For All-Star Game

Obama Throws Out First
Pitch Before Last Night's Game
Last night's MLB All-Star Game posted a 10.4/18 overnight rating in metered markets, down 5% from a 11.0/18 for the first nine innings of last year's 15-inning game. The pregame show drew an 8.3/15, also down slightly from last year's 8.4/15. Fox execs attribute the small ratings drops to St. Louis' smaller market size compared to N.Y. Last night's game drew a 37.0 rating in St. Louis, compared to N.Y.'s 17.1 rating last year. But even with its smaller rating, N.Y. had 775,000 more homes watching its game than St. Louis. Fox Sports President Ed Goren said, "We're delighted with the strong ratings generated by last night's unforgettable pregame ceremony and tight game. It is the highest-rated night on any network since the 'American Idol' finale and reaffirms the All-Star Game as the television event of the summer. We exceeded our audience expectations and our advertisers are extremely happy." President Obama proved to be a ratings boon for the telecast, as his live appearance saw ratings jump to 10.3/17, a 6% ratings jump over the previous quarter-hour. That marked the biggest percentage increase at any point during the game (John Ourand, THE DAILY).

PLAYING CATCH: In St. Louis, Dan Caesar writes Fox last night "did much better with President Obama in the booth than it did with him on the field during its telecast." When Obama was throwing the ceremonial first pitch prior to last night's game, Fox had a "nice close-up of his windup and release but failed to show the ball's full path and the catch" by Cardinals 1B Albert Pujols. Fox Sports President Ed Goren said the camera "didn't get positioned where it was supposed to be." Goren: "There are a lot of issues where we're not in total control when you have a president attending a game. ... There was a bit of a scramble there" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 7/15). In Albany, Pete Dougherty wrote the "main thing for a ceremonial first pitch is to see if the ball makes it to the catcher on the fly," but Fox' "bad camera angle never gave us a view" (TIMESUNION.com, 7/14). CNBC's Darren Rovell on his Twitter feed wrote, "Think about how many cameras Fox has on field. How can they miss ball 2 glove on Obama pitch?" (TWITTER.com, 7/14). THE BIG LEAD writes, “We’ve been watching baseball for over a dozen years and as far as first pitches go, we’ve never seen a camera angle like the one that Fox chose last night” (THEBIGLEAD.com, 7/15). BIZ OF BASEBALL's Maury Brown notes of the Obama pitch that it "wasn't until much later in the broadcast that FOX went to the footage from the centerfield camera, and then only briefly." Brown: "It was a huge blunder for such a historic occasion" (BIZOFBASEBALL.com, 7/15).

PRESIDENTIAL ACCEPTANCE SPEECH: In Detroit, Tom Gage writes Fox' Joe Buck "conducted a relaxed, entertaining interview" of Obama during the second inning of last night's game. The MLB All-Star Game is a "match made in network heaven," and is the "best televised All-Star Game in sports" (DETROIT NEWS, 7/15). MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo noted Obama's "time in the booth was filled with light banter about his ceremonial first pitch, his choice of wardrobe and his thoughts on the state of the game." Obama showed a "pretty good grasp of the game beyond the South Side of Chicago, discussing how the overall season was shaping up" (MLB.com, 7/14).

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REPORT CARD: The game lasted just 2 hours and 31 minutes, and BIZ OF BASEBALL's Brown writes, "If it had gone much longer, FOX would have surely figured out a way to gaffe even more of it." During the introduction of the team rosters, the net had "one camera operator aim up from ground level for the AL players while the NL players were shot level." However, the "best part of the broadcast may have been the unprecedented segment by MLB and People for the 'All-Stars Among Us.'" The ceremony, which featured taped appearances by the five living U.S. presidents, "played out well, given the state of the country" (BIZOFBASEBALL.com, 7/15). In Detroit, David Darby writes Fox had a "rough night with all the player changes." The net misidentified Rockies RF Brad Hawpe as Brewers RF Ryan Braun, then later mistook Rays SS Jason Bartlett as Rays 2B Ben Zobrist (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 7/15). The TIMES-UNION's Dougherty noted Fox' Tim McCarver was "quieter than normal" during last night's game, but he "still talks too much." Dougherty added, "Fox's replays continue to drive me crazy. I counted two replays of check swings during the game, and both were from the center-field camera." The net also has a "nauseating habit of showing close-up after close-up after close-up" (TIMESUNION.com, 7/14). Meanwhile, Fox lost the audio midway through Chris Rose's interview with AL starting pitcher Roy Halladay after he left the game, and Fangs Bites' Kenny Fang on his Twitter feed wrote, "The old Rudy Martzke Dreaded Glitch Award goes to Chris Rose's microphone" (TWITTER.com, 7/14).

LIVING IN A FANTASY WORLD: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Matthew Futterman in a running diary of last night's game noted Fox ran multiple promotions for its new fantasy football game, and if the network "gets this right -- and it looks like they have taken the right step by partnering with Open Sports to run their game -- Fox could be a top-three player in fantasy sports in two or three seasons" (WSJ.com, 7/14).

SPIRIT OF ST. LOUIS: St. Louis Post-Dispatch Editor Arnie Robbins said that the newspaper’s Web site Monday attracted 2.7 million page views, its “highest one-day total since launching in the mid-1990s,” because of “massive preview coverage” of the All-Star Game. The site’s previous high was 2.55 million, reached on July 20, 2008, when InBev’s acquisition of A-B was completed (EDITORANDPUBLISHER.com, 7/14).

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