SBD/October 17, 2013/Media

Fox Overnight Up For ALCS Game 4; Columnist Questions Afternoon Postseason Scheduling

Tigers-Red Sox helping Fox seeing double-digit gains in LCS ratings and viewers

Fox earned a 5.7 overnight rating for last night’s Red Sox-Tigers ALCS Game 4, up 36% from a 4.2 overnight for the net’s Giants-Cardinals NLCS Game 4 last year, which aired on a Thursday night. Earlier in the day, TBS earned a 3.0 overnight for Cardinals-Dodgers NLCS Game 5 (4:00pm-7:26pm ET). The rating peaked at a 4.1 overnight during the 7:00-7:15pm window. There was no comparable afternoon Game 5 for the net last year. The net’s Cardinals-Brewers Game 5 in ’11, which was in primetime, earned a 3.9 overnight. Only three of TBS’ NLCS games have aired in primetime this season, and those games have seen a 24% overnight ratings increase thus far.

LOOKING BACK: Fox is averaging a 4.4 final rating and 6.9 million viewers through three ALCS games, up 26% and 28%, respectively, from the net’s first three NLCS telecasts last season. Through three Rangers-Tigers ALCS telecasts in ’11 -- two of which were interrupted or rescheduled due to weather -- Fox was averaging a 4.3 rating. Tuesday afternoon’s Red Sox-Tigers Game 3 finished with a 3.7 rating and 5.6 million viewers, up from a 2.7 rating and 3.9 million viewers for Giants-Cardinals Game 3 last year, which aired in primetime after a three-hour rain delay. Meanwhile, TBS is averaging a 3.2 final rating and 5.0 million viewers through four NLCS telecasts this season, down compared to the 3.8 rating and 5.9 million viewers for the four-game Tigers-Yankees ALCS last year, but up from a 2.6 rating and 4.1 million viewers through four games of the ’11 NLCS (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).

NO DEBATING THIS ISSUE: In Boston, Joe Battenfeld noted the local mayoral debate on Tuesday night "got crushed in the ratings" by Red Sox-Tigers Game 3, managing just a 1.9 local rating. ALCS Game 3 peaked at a 31.1 rating from 7:30-7:45pm ET (BOSTONHERALD.com, 10/16).

DAYTIME DRAMA: In L.A., Tom Hoffarth notes yesterday's Cardinals-Dodgers NLCS Game 5 was "a non-sellout" with 53,183 in attendance. MLB has "yet to fully understand the ramifications of selling itself out to television." How is a 1:00pm PT game in L.A. "optimizing exposure for the sport?" Dodger Stadium around 15 minutes before first pitch "was barely half full." Yesterday's "not-ready-for-prime-time broadcast exposes another gaping hole in the MLB's not-ready-to-reach-the-young-demographic strategy." Is there "some kind of compromise that can be discussed to appease viewers as well as the networks trying to recoup their ginormous rights fees?" Daytime games in the postseason "are great for nostalgia's sake, not so much for its future stake" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 10/17). Blogger Ed Sherman wrote it "really doesn't make sense to play your most important games of the year on weekdays." The day playoff games "aren't about serving the fans: it's about serving the networks." MLB "obviously doesn't want to have the two LCS games competing against each other on Fox and TBS in primetime." However, in the process, the "set-up limits the audience for the weekday game, especially on the West coast." The concept of "airing multiple playoff games at the same time has lifted the Stanley Cup playoffs on NBC's multiple platforms." The one plus of afternoon playoff baseball is "that allows young kids with early bedtimes to watch the games." If LCS games started at 5:30-6:00pm ET, those "young fans still would be able to see plenty of baseball." But MLB "likely won't make any changes to the format" (SHERMANREPORT.com, 10/16).

HURRY UP & WAIT: In Chicago, Paul Sullivan notes the length of the Tigers-Red Sox ALCS games has "been a topic again after a pair of 1-0 games lasted nearly four and 3 1/2 hours." Tigers manager Jim Leyland said, "In postseason, we're basically playing -- and I don't want anybody to take this wrong -- a Red Sox-Yankees in-season game. ... You've got the TV; obviously it's longer between innings. You've got the seventh inning, 'God Bless America' and things of that nature, which we're certainly all for. They seem to run a little bit longer" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 10/17). In N.Y., Tim Rohan notes there are "longer commercial breaks in the postseason." Ads on Fox "take an extra 30 seconds in the postseason." TBS also "adds 30 seconds" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/17).

TALK THE TALK: TBS MLB analyst Pedro Martinez said of making the move to TV, "It's ... a good opportunity to explore something different, because I really want to expand on what I learned in baseball. Some of the guys, like Kevin Millar, Barry Larkin, Manny Acta, they all know the knowledge in my head about the game and they all thought that as loose as I am, I would be a person that could do this" (SI, 10/21 issue).
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