SBD/October 27, 2011/Media

Fox Benefits From World Series Game Six Postponement

A long delay and late ending to Game Six could have been a ratings disaster for Fox
Fox Sports Media Group co-President & co-COO Eric Shanks said that “while his company doesn't have direct influence on scheduling decisions," such as the move to postpone last night's scheduled Rangers-Cardinals World Series Game Six, he noted the call "was the logical move,” according to Dan Caesar of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. Shanks said, "We always state our preference is that if you don't think you are going to get a full game in, we would prefer not to start. And we'd prefer not to have a trophy presentation to anybody at 2 o'clock in the morning." Caesar notes a lengthy delay "could have led to a possible ratings disaster on Fox and an embarrassment to MLB had the Texas Rangers won late at night to claim the crown.” Shanks: "We're having such a great Series, with so many story lines and so many things to think about you don't want to end up messing with the Series by having a partial game or a game that gets postponed in the middle or a long delay.'' He added, "It's all about the game, you just hope for a close game and that will drive ratings. We'll take a Game 7, we'll play it any day of the week, any time." Caesar notes with the postponement of Game Six to tonight, a Game Seven, if needed, now “would be played Friday instead of Thursday” (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 10/27). MLB.com’s Peter Gammons wrote Fox “pays a lot of money to televise baseball, the network knows entertainment, and what's good for the FOX audience is good for baseball because the game needs to be on in as many households as possible” (MLB.com, 10/26). Comcast SportsNet Bay Area's Ray Ratto said MLB is "hypersensitive" about the quality of baseball in the postseason, "especially when Fox is in their ear and whispering, ‘Kill this, kill this, kill this.’" Ratto: "The next time Bud Selig resists a TV network will be the first so I think that had a lot to do with it. They don’t want to televise a rain delay” (“Jim Rome Is Burning,” ESPN2, 10/26).

FORGET ABOUT THE RATINGS: In K.C., Sam Mellinger writes what MLB “doesn’t need is the outdated idea that TV ratings determine interest, which has been one of the steady narratives of this World Series and is wasted energy on a few levels.” MLB “famously drew record crowds through the recession and revenue remains at or near all-time highs.” But the “biggest shame of the hand-wringing over TV ratings isn’t that they’re misleading, but that they’re distracting from what might be the best postseason in the wild-card era and the best World Series in nearly a decade” (K.C. STAR, 10/27). On Long Island, Neil Best writes the low ratings for this World Series are “a shame, because it's been an interesting Series so far.” MLB is “as healthy as ever as a local attraction, but it can't match the NFL or even the NBA in appeal to viewers once their local favorite is knocked out of the competition” (NEWSDAY.com, 10/26). The GLOBE & MAIL’s Bruce Dowbiggin writes the low rating “doesn't seem right.” The five-game average rating for the Series “has been the worst ever so far but a Game 6/7 will help some” (GLOBE & MAIL, 10/27). SI.com's Joe Posnanski tweeted, “So World Series ratings are lowest ever AND beating bad NFL games. I guess people have stopped watching sports on TV" (TWITTER.com, 10/26).

FUNNY BALL
: The POST-DISPATCH’s Caesar noted Fox during its telecast of Game Five Monday invited Rangers P Derek Holland to “jump in and do a little play-by-play while impersonating comedian Will Ferrell's mimicking of baseball broadcast legend Harry Caray.” The segment in the top of the third inning “began conventionally enough,” as it is “not uncommon for a pitcher who isn't going to be used to have a brief in-game chat with the broadcasters.” Fox’ Joe Buck knew Holland did the Caray imitation and “at the end of the interview said he wanted to hear it.” Caesar: “Purists probably will be aghast, saying Fox turned a Series broadcast into a Ferrell ‘Saturday Night Live’ skit. But it was the third inning ... not the bottom of the ninth of Game 7. And what's wrong with a little levity anyway, as the personable Holland added a nice change of pace?” (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 10/25).

THROWING THE CHANGE UP: In Salt Lake City, Scott Pierce wrote the "way to inject some life into the 2012 World Series is to make a change in the broadcast booth." Fox’ Tim McCarver after 31 years as a sportscaster has “run out of things to say,” and he “just says the same things over and over again.” There is “nothing he can’t over-analyze,” and there is “nothing he can’t hit on so often that viewers want to hit their heads against the wall.” For McCarver’s “own sake, he ought to bow out gracefully” (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 10/26).
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