SBD/Issue 24/Sports Media

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  • MLB Playoffs Crank Back Up After Television-Necessitated Break

    Phillies-Dodgers To Begin NLCS Tonight 
    With Game At Dodger Stadium
    The Phillies-Dodgers NLCS begins tonight at 8:00pm ET after a break of three days following the end of the Divisional Series, and in N.Y., Bob Raissman writes when it comes to playoff scheduling, "no sport plays footsie with television more than baseball." Writing under the header, "Message To Bud Selig: Play Ball, Please! Too Many Off-Days Mar Baseball's Postseason Schedule," Raissman notes MLB Commissioner Bud Selig is "capitulating to his bankers at Fox and Turner Sports" with the current schedule. Both the Angels and Yankees will have had four days off prior to their scheduled ALCS Game One at Yankee Stadium tomorrow, and that game "should have been played" yesterday. From a "business perspective, and in some respects a TV ratings issue as well, having all this time between the last ALDS contests and the opening ALCS tilt ain't exactly a good thing." However, the strategy, "while a gamble, is somewhat understandable." Considering the "inconsistent ratings national baseball telecasts record, including playoffs and World Series, the networks are gargling red ink and probably losing money on the product." Raissman: "So MLB, looking to help its network partners maximize TV ratings, decided to stretch things out in a format designed to limit the number of head-to-head games in both the division series and LCS" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/15).

    THE WAITING IS THE HARDEST PART: FanHouse.com's Kevin Blackistone said, "You talk about sucking the wind out of the postseason. If the three sweeps didn't do it then not having the games on television when you don't have to compete against anything else other than regular season NHL ... is sure to flatten whatever interest is in it." FanHouse.com's Jay Mariotti: "TBS could be more flexible. For some reason when baseball writes the contracts with TV, TV wants to lock everything in" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 10/14). ESPN's Bill Simmons writes on his Twitter feed, "Could the baseball playoffs have less momentum right now? That layoff lasted so long that Chip Caray's head injury healed" (TWITTER.com, 10/15).

    WHERE ARE YOU? In Philadelphia, Bill Wolff writes the NFL "should by all rights be having the uncommon problem of losing its grip on American sports obsessives" to the MLB Playoffs, but it "hasn't happened." The No. 1 reason for this is TBS is "where the MLB has played out the first round of its best time of year." Wolff: "Nothing says 'You shouldn't be watching this' like incessant promos for the guy from 'Everybody Loves Raymond'" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 10/15).

    STREAM A LITTLE STREAM: PAID CONTENT's Staci Kramer reports MLBAM averaged 350,000 live streams for each game of the Divisional Series round through its Postseason.TV subscription, with 314,000 streams "via PCs on MLB.com and 36,000 to iPhone/iTouch devices via the MLB At Bat app." The At Bat app also delivered "another 88,000 live audio-only streams." The numbers show that people "will pay for variations of coverage" and that they will "watch on a small screen." Kramer: "It may be designed as a complement but for some of us on the go, it proved to be a tolerable primary video source" (PAIDCONTENT.org, 10/15).

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  • ESPN, Fox See MLB Ratings, Viewership Decline For Regular Season

    Fox averaged a 1.8 rating and 2.74 million viewers for its 26 MLB Saturday afternoon telecasts this season, down 10% and 6%, respectively, from last season, and down 22% and 17% from '07. This season marked the fifth straight year of ratings declines for the Saturday telecasts, as well as the lowest average for regular-season telecasts on Fox since the net acquired MLB rights prior to the '96 season. Fox drew less than a 2.0 rating for 18 of the 26 telecasts, with seven telecasts drawing less than a 1.5 rating. The most-viewed telecast was April 25, featuring Yankees-Red Sox in 78% of markets, which drew 4.086 million viewers. Fox' final regular-season telecast on October 3 -- which was going against a full schedule of college football -- was the least-viewed this season, drawing 1.741 million viewers and featuring Royals-Twins in 61% of markets (THE DAILY).

    MLB REGULAR-SEASON RATINGS ON FOX
    YEAR
    NET
    TELECASTS
    RATING
    VIEWERS (000)
    '09
    Fox
    26
    1.8
    2,740
    '08
    Fox
    26
    2.0
    2,900
    '07
    Fox
    26
    2.3
    3,312

    ESPN: ESPN averaged a 1.3 cable rating and 1.607 million viewers for 66 regular-season telecasts, down 8% and 5%, respectively, from last season. The net's exclusive "Sunday Night Baseball" telecasts averaged a 1.9 cable rating and 2.458 million viewers for 23 games, down 5% and 6% from last season. "SNB" featured Yankees-Red Sox four times this season. Excluding the September 27 game, which started at 2:00pm ET due to Yom Kippur, the Yankees-Red Sox matchups averaged 4.625 million viewers, up 14% from the three Yankees-Red Sox telecasts last season.

    '09 MLB REGULAR-SEASON GAMES ON ESPN
    YEAR
    GAMES
    CABLE RATING
    VIEWERS (000)
    '09
    66
    1.3
    1,607
    '08
    63
    1.4
    1,693
    '07
    64
    1.5
    1,775
    "SUNDAY NIGHT BASEBALL" ON ESPN
    YEAR
    GAMES
    CABLE RATING
    VIEWERS (000)
    '09
    23
    1.9
    2,458
    '08
    24
    2.0
    2,617
    '07
    23
    2.2
    2,752

    TBS: During its second year of regular-season telecasts, TBS averaged a 0.7 cable rating and 931,000 viewers for 28 telecasts, including the Twins-Tigers AL Central tiebreaker, in its second season as a national rights holder for regular-season games. The figures are up from a 0.6 rating and 731,000 viewers for 26 telecasts in '08, including the White Sox-Twins tiebreaker. Excluding the tiebreaker games, the net averaged 614,000 viewers for its non-exclusive telecasts, down from 624,000 viewers last season. The April 19 Indians-Yankees telecast was the only non-exclusive TBS game to earn over 1 million viewers since TBS began regular-season telecasts.

    REGIONAL NETS: The Red Sox once again led all MLB RSNs with a 9.39 HH rating, which was down 7.2% from their mark last season. The Nationals saw the biggest percentage gain among MLB RSN ratings, but still only managed to average 14,000 HHs, compared to around 228,000 HHs for the Red Sox on NESN. The A's had the biggest year-over-year drop this season, and were among 10 teams to see a double-digit drop. There were 12 teams with double-digit percentage gains this season, including Pirates telecasts on FSN Pittsburgh (+17.8%) (THE DAILY). Yankees telecasts on YES Network this season earned the second-highest season rating ever on cable in N.Y., trailing only YES' 4.69 rating from the '07 season (YES). Mariners TV ratings on FSN Northwest this season were up "on the strength of a resurgent season on the field." FSN Northwest VP & Station Manager Mark Jorgensen said, "The Seattle market is always friendly to baseball, especially the Mariners. It really is the envy of major-league baseball in a lot of ways" (SEATTLE TIMES, 10/14). CSN Philadelphia had its highest-rated Phillies regular season in the net's 12-year history (CSN Philadelphia).

    '09 MLB RSN REGULAR-SEASON RATINGS
    (ranked by percentage gain from '08)
    NET
    TEAM
    '09
    '08
    % +/-
    '07
    2-YR % +/-
    MASN/MASN2
    Nationals
    0.66
    0.34
    94.1%
    0.69
    -4.3%
    FS Southwest
    Rangers
    2.51
    1.60
    56.9%
    1.40
    79.3%
    FS South Braves
    3.41
    2.38
    43.3%
    3.33
    2.4%
    CSN Bay Area Giants
    3.25
    2.32
    40.1%
    2.77
    17.3%
    SportSouth Braves
    3.41
    2.46
    38.6%
    3.42
    -0.3%
    FSN Rocky Mountain Rockies
    4.19
    3.28
    27.7%
    3.47
    20.7%
    FSN Northwest Mariners
    5.17
    4.16
    24.3%
    8.22
    -37.1%
    CSN Philadelphia Phillies
    7.12
    5.75
    23.8%
    5.53
    28.8%
    FSN Pittsburgh Pirates
    3.25
    2.76
    17.8%
    3.24
    0.3%
    FS North Twins
    6.28
    7.47
    -15.9%
    6.84
    -8.2%
    MASN/MASN2 Orioles
    2.97
    2.64
    12.5%
    3.00
    -1.0%
    FS Detroit Tigers
    6.95
    6.26
    11.0%
    7.54
    -7.8%
    FS Prime Ticket Dodgers
    2.19
    2.00
    9.5%
    1.90
    15.3%
    YES Yankees
    4.62
    4.22
    9.5%
    4.69
    -1.5%
    FS Kansas City** Royals
    3.08
    2.84
    8.5%
    n/a
    n/a
    CSN Chicago White Sox
    2.27
    2.19
    3.7%
    1.31
    73.3%
    FS Midwest Cardinals
    7.90
    7.89
    0.1%
    7.50
    5.3%
    FS Southwest Astros
    2.86
    3.08
    -7.1%
    3.94
    -27.4%
    NESN Red Sox
    9.39
    10.12
    -7.2%
    12.20
    -23.0%
    FS Florida Marlins
    3.32
    3.63
    -8.5%
    3.14
    5.7%
    Cox/SD4 Padres
    3.78
    4.21
    -10.2%
    7.03
    -46.2%
    FS Florida Rays
    3.10
    3.47
    -10.7%
    1.74
    78.2%
    Sun Sports Marlins
    3.21
    3.68
    -12.8%
    3.03
    5.9%
    FS West Angels
    1.21
    1.40
    -13.6%
    1.60
    -24.4%
    CSN Chicago Cubs
    4.13
    4.96
    -16.7%
    4.21
    -1.9%
    SNY Mets
    2.66
    3.24
    -17.9%
    3.26
    -18.4%
    FS Wisconsin Brewers
    6.07
    7.47
    -18.7%
    7.45
    -18.5%
    FS Arizona D'Backs
    3.29
    4.06
    -19.0%
    4.79
    -31.3%
    FS Ohio Reds
    3.77
    4.92
    -23.4%
    4.96
    -24.0%
    SportsTime Ohio Indians
    2.79
    3.88
    -28.1%
    5.80
    -51.9%
    CSN California* A's
    0.80
    1.73
    -53.8%
    1.77
    -54.8%


    NOTES: Data is unavailable for Blue Jays telecasts. * = games aired on CSN Bay Area last year. ** = Royals games were aired locally on KC Metro Sports in '07.

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  • Whopper Of An Apology: Fox, BK Say Sorry For NFL Pregame Cartoon

    Fox, Burger King Apologize For Cartoon Skit
    Mocking Jessica Simpson's Supposed Weight Gain
    Fox and Burger King "have apologized for a cartoon skit that aired" during "Fox NFL Sunday" last Sunday showed the Cowboys "mocking Jessica Simpson for her supposed weight gain," according to Bill Nichols of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. An animated version of Cowboys RB Marion Barber in the clip said, "Man, I still can't believe Tony dated Jessica Simpson, even after she blew up bigger than Flozell Adams!" Fox said in a statement, "Burger King did not have any editorial input in the creation of the animation that ran last Sunday, and no one from Burger King Corp., approved it before it aired. Upon reflection, our poor attempt at humor was insensitive, and we deeply apologize to anyone who might have been offended" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 10/15). Burger King in a statement noted the QSR's long relationship and media partnership with Fox and said, "The specific content for this sketch involving Jessica Simpson was not developed or aired by BKC or any of its agencies” (RADARONLINE.com, 10/15). 

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  • Judge Orders Cybersquatter To Surrender Domain Names To Bosh

    Bosh Wins Control Of ChrisBosh.com, Some
    800 Other Illegally Registered Domain Names
    U.S. District Court Judge Florence-Marie Cooper "has ordered a cybersquatter to surrender" www.chrisbosh.com to Raptors F Chris Bosh, "settling a lawsuit filed last year," according to Howard Beck of the N.Y. TIMES. The judge also "went a step further," ordering defendant Luis Zavala and his company, Hoopology.com, to "release some 800 illegally registered domain names to Bosh." Bosh: "Everyone has to be protected against this stuff." Bosh's attorney Brian Heidelberger said, "We are notifying the world that anyone whose name is on this list that has a legitimate right to the domain name, Chris will transfer it to them for free." The list contains "athletes, celebrities and would-be celebrities," including Mavericks G Jason Kidd, Jazz G Deron Williams, Suns F Amare Stoudemire and G Steve Nash and Bucks G Michael Redd, "as well as college and high school players and international prospects." The list of domain names is available online (N.Y. TIMES, 10/15). Heidelberger said that Bosh "has no intention of holding onto any of them except his own." Heidelberger: "He's not trying to make any money here. He just wants to give these players their names back" (WSJ.com, 10/14). Bosh earlier this year "won a $120,000 settlement" from Zavala in the case (TORONTO STAR, 10/15).

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  • Media Notes

    Favre's Return To Green Bay
    Now Gets National Audience
    YAHOO SPORTS' Chris Chase noted the NFL moved the kickoff of the November 1 Giants-Eagles game from 4:15pm ET to 1:00pm to accommodate a potential World Series game at Citizens Bank Park, which resulted in the Vikings-Packers game moving to 4:15pm to be "nationally televised on Fox." While Giants-Eagles "would have drawn great ratings," Vikings QB Brett Favre's return to Lambeau Field is the "most anticipated game of the year." Fox will get "significantly more viewers and buzz with Favre than it would have" for Giants-Eagles (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 10/14).

    UNDER FIRE: The GLOBE & MAIL's Bruce Dowbiggin reports Rogers Sportsnet "continued to draw heat" this week over its decision to "not show the MLB playoffs on all its four regional channels." Sportsnet Pacific Sunday dropped Yankees-Twins ALDS Game Three in the ninth inning for Stars-Canucks. Dowbiggin: "It's clear that Sportsnet must weigh the value of pushing clients into buying multiple regional channels against the pushback from baseball fans over missing postseason games" (GLOBESPORTS.com, 10/14).

    ANOTHER SATELLITE FIGHT: In Dallas, Mike Heika reports Stars fans "have to deal with a problem between" Dish Network and FS Southwest, as FS Southwest "has taken on an additional 20 games this season and says that Dish does not want to pick those games up." Last night's Predators-Stars game was "blacked out for Dish's viewers" and Friday's Bruins-Stars game "also will be." Fox Sports officials said that negotiations are "ongoing, and they hope to resolve the problem" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 10/15).

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