SBD/Issue 24/Sports Media

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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