SBD/April 1, 2013/MLB Season Preview

ESPN Sees Drop In Overnight Rating For Astros' AL Debut Sunday Night

ESPN earned a 1.5 overnight Nielsen rating for the Rangers-Astros MLB season opener last night. That figure is down from a 1.8 overnight for the season opener last year, which featured the Marlins opening their new ballpark against the Cardinals on a Wednesday night. However, the 1.5 overnight for Rangers-Astros is up from a 1.4 rating for the net's first "Sunday Night Baseball" telecast last year, which featured White Sox-Rangers. Last night's game earned a 5.6 local rating in Dallas-Ft. Worth and a 4.2 rating in Houston (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor). Last night was the regular-season debut of ESPN's three-man booth of Dan Shulman, John Kruk and Orel Hershiser on "SNB." In N.Y., Phil Mushnick wrote, "Who knows how that will work out, but couldn't ESPN have given Shulman and Hershiser a shot at a two-man booth for a while?" (N.Y. POST, 3/31). But N.Y. Daily News media columnist Bob Raissman tweeted, "Kruk/Orel don't feel compelled to talk every second. This officially disqualifies them from working CBS/Turner NCAA hoops telecasts."

BOOTH MATES: SI.com's Richard Deitsch notes ESPN will "rotate its Wednesday Night Baseball broadcast booth, with Sean McDonough getting many of the lead announcer assignments." The net said commentators will be assigned "based on relevant connection to the game." Meanwhile, ESPN's new "Monday Night Baseball" crew of Dave O'Brien, Rick Sutcliffe, Aaron Boone and Tim Kurkjian debuts today with Red Sox-Yankees (SI.com, 4/1).

FUZZY MATH? Shulman said that he "sees the value of 'the new age analytics,'" but he is not going to "hand over his call to them in part because he does not think" viewers are into those numbers. Shulman said his personal preference, in terms of using the newer metrics, is to "dip my toe in the water but not delve into those during a telecast." Hershiser contended that "it's easier to bring the stat to the broadcast if it's a formula that everybody understands" (JSONLINE.com, 3/28).
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