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Fox earned a 10.0 overnight rating for last night’s Red Sox-Cardinals World Series Game 5, even from a 10.0 overnight for Cardinals-Rangers Game 5 in ’11, which remains the lowest-rated Game 5 in World Series history. Last night’s game is also down 5.6% from a 10.6 overnight for the series-clinching Giants-Rangers Game 5 in ’10. Red Sox-Cardinals Game 5 will deliver Fox a win in primetime for Monday night. Each of the last five World Series Game 5s have had competition from ESPN’s “MNF.” Last night’s Seahawks-Rams game drew a 7.6 overnight, including a 10.9 local rating in St. Louis. For World Series Game 5, the St. Louis market drew a 43.8 local rating, while Boston drew a 38.5 rating (THE DAILY).
FLIP THE SCRIPT: Fox' Game 4 telecast finished with a 9.4 rating and 16.0 million viewers, marking the best World Series Game 4 since '09. While Game 4 beat NBC's "SNF" in the overnight ratings, it ended up losing to "SNF" when final ratings were released. NBC earned a 9.8 final rating and 16.9 million viewers for the Packers-Vikings "SNF." Sunday night's World Series telecast is up 6% and 3%, respectively, from the Giants' series-clinching win over the Tigers in Game 4 last year. The audience for Game 4 would mark the net's best primetime show since the "American Idol" premiere last January. Through four games, Fox is averaging an 8.4 final rating and 14.0 million viewers, up 11% and 10%, respectively, from the Giants-Tigers series in '12 (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).
WHERE DRAMA LIVES: In Ohio, George Thomas noted the World Series "continues to be a winner" for WJW-Fox in the Cleveland-Akron market, with series-to-date ratings rising 11% over last year. It is "not difficult to surmise that heightened drama and freaky finishes might play a role in that success." Numbers should "only go higher given that Fox is now guaranteed the series will go at least six games." MLB Commissioner Bud Selig must be "paying homage to the baseball god about now" (OHIO.com, 10/28).
KEEP THE PAST IN THE PAST: NBCSPORTS.com's Craig Calcaterra wrote, "For reasons that continue to escape me, the doomsaying about World Series television ratings is fundamentally different from the conversation being had about any other TV show’s ratings." When "someone talks about, say, 'NCIS' or 'Two and [a] Half Men' they talk about its ratings compared to actually competing prime time shows." They "don’t compare it to 'All in the Family' in 1974 or 'MASH' in 1980." Yet for some reason MLB always is "judged against games from that era as if time had not passed." MLB as a TV product is "not competing for eyes or ad dollars with 1979." It is "competing with programming from 2013." As "far as that goes it’s doing quite well, thank you." In '12 -- a series which "many cite as a low water mark -- the World Series beat every entertainment show on the fall primetime schedule in multiple key age groups" (NBCSPORTS.com, 10/28).
ON THE LOOKOUT: In N.Y., Richard Sandomir notes Fox during Game 4 "committed a costly error on the game-ending pickoff play." Fox Sports Dir Bill Webb said, "The cut was late. I saw the play, but it was a late cut." He added, "It was very quick, between pitches, not even a normal throw over." Webb said that if he "had not been late to show the pickoff move, it would have been shown from a high camera along the first base line." Fox Baseball Coordinating Producer Pete Macheska said that the net would "continue to cut to fans and players to heighten tension between pitches." He added, “Baseball isn’t the quickest sport. If we stay on the field and don’t give all the reactions, it’s not as exciting as when we do. But do we aim to miss something? No." Meanwhile, Sandomir notes the obstruction sequence in Game 3 "was handled with greater aplomb." After Cardinals 1B Allen Craig doubled, Fox "fixated on the next batter, Jon Jay, and never left him." After Jay lifted a pop foul into the seats on the first pitch from Red Sox P Koji Uehara, Fox "stayed on him for 16 seconds ... before cutting to Uehara for five seconds and the runner on third base, Yadier Molina, for three." The final, multipart play was "a classic shot from the high home plate camera that panned and zoomed in and out to capture all of the play." Webb said, "You can’t cut on that play. If you cut, you take attention from where the ball is" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/29).
PERFECT BALANCE: In St. Louis, Dan Caesar notes one of Fox MLB analyst Tim McCarver's strong points has been "his ability to provide analysis that give viewers information they most likely don't know" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 10/29).
ESPN earned a 7.6 overnight for the Seahawks-Rams “MNF” telecast last night, down 8.4% from an 8.3 overnight for 49ers-Cardinals in Week 8 last year. Last night's game had competition from Red Sox-Cardinals World Series Game 5 on Fox. 49ers-Cardinals in '12 did not have World Series competition, but lacked ratings for eight major markets stemming from the effects of Hurricane Sandy. The last “MNF” game to have World Series competition was Ravens-Jaguars in Week 7 of ’11. That game drew a 7.0 overnight up against Cardinals-Rangers Game 5. Last night's Seahawks-Rams game drew a 6.2 local rating in the St. Louis market on ESPN and a 4.7 rating on KPLR-CW (10.9 total market rating). That compares to a 43.8 local rating for Red Sox-Cardinals Game 5 in St. Louis. In Seattle-Tacoma, “MNF” drew a 17.0 local rating on ESPN and a 19.4 rating on KONG-IND (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).FIRST THINGS FIRST: ESPN's "SportsCenter" came on at 11:45pm ET following Seahawks-Rams and led with 15 minutes of highlights and analysis of the "MNF" game. Game 5 of the World Series was the second report with 10 minutes of highlights, interviews and analysis from the net's "Baseball Tonight" crew (THE DAILY). The Buffalo News' Mike Harrington wrote, "You're kidding, right? SportsCenter led with Rams-Seahawks over the World Series? That's an embarrassment. That's a sham." Sports On Earth's Tommy Tomlinson wrote, "So SportsCenter leads with Seahawks-Rams over the World Series? Really?" SB Nation's Rob Neyer: "I suppose it's manifest that SportsCenter would have led with World Series if ESPN had postseason baseball. Instead, NFL." But Awful Announcing wrote, "First block of Monday SportsCenter is always MNF postgame. Nobody should be surprised it leads over baseball." NFL.com's Albert Breer: "Saw the whole World Series/MNF debate last night. Forgotten was this: Viewership does not dictate news value. Sad that people think that."
TOUGH DECISION: In St. Louis, Dan Caesar notes with Red Sox-Cardinals Game 5 and Seahawks-Rams taking place just miles away from each other, he went "back and forth" watching both games. ESPN's Mike Tirico said of attendance at the Edward Jones Dome, "I'd say about 65 percent, maybe 70 percent full here. With so many St. Louis residents watching their Cardinals, (it's) still a good turnout to watch the Rams here tonight" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 10/29). ESPN's Steve Levy before showing highlights of Game 5 said, "One person who sells tickets, let's say on the secondary market, said you could have gotten a Rams ticket for $9 tonight. Meanwhile, eight blocks away a Cardinals ticket would cost you some $400" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 10/28).
THE LAND OF OZ: In L.A., Michael Hiltzik noted talk show host Dr. Mehmet Oz appears in a 30-second, "Together We Make Football" ad, which is a "story about how his son's first schoolboy tackle filled his heart with pride." But Dr. Oz "seems to be overlooking ... that the sport in general and the NFL specifically have come under fire over the health implications of playing football, especially the results of repeated concussions." There is "no mention from this eminent medical man that there may be a few downsides to contact football" (LATIMES.com, 10/28).
Tonight's Univ. of Kansas men's basketball exhibition game will be "the first of six games on the new Jayhawk Television Network," according to Blair Kerkhoff of the K.C. STAR. Officially, the new station is called "the Time Warner Cable SportsChannel, and that name brings it in line with Time Warner sports channels throughout the nation." The network is "only available to Time Warner and Comcast cable subscribers." In addition to the six basketball games, the Jayhawk Television Network will air Saturday's KU-Texas football game and "other KU programming throughout the year." Reaction to the net "has ramped up because of the anticipation of a successful basketball season and the number of games involved." Neither the football game nor the six basketball games "will be available on Dish Network, DirecTV or cable providers" in the K.C. market. KU Associate AD/External Affairs Jim Marchiony said, "It's not over the air, and that’s something we did not take lightly. There were people who weren't going to like it" (K.C. STAR, 10/29).
The first five games of the World Series were spent poking around MLB.com's At Bat mobile app, with an eye on postseason offerings. For starters, baseball fans cannot watch the World Series or other nationally broadcast games on At Bat 13 unless they are outside the U.S. and Canada. This includes users with a paid subscription. So, to be fair, the app offers more to fans in the regular season. In the postseason, a recurring monthly charge of $2.99 or a one-time season cost of $3.99 (discounted from $19.99 for the full season) unlocks the app's premium features. While there is no live video, live audio of the game is offered from each team's local flagship radio station. A pennant icon unveils a full series scoring recap with game-by-game "wraps" that include final box scores, key stats, play-by-play, scoring and written summaries. Future game previews are well done, presenting a general overview and the option to purchase tickets. At Bat 13, developed by MLBAM, was reviewed using an iPhone 5 version 7.0.2, with AT&T service.
GRAND SLAMS: At Bat 13 subscribers can access condensed game video within hours of the final result. Sunday night’s game appeared before 10:00am ET yesterday. While this feature does not make up for the inability to watch live games on the app, it is useful for those who miss the live action entirely. These condensed game videos are about 15 minutes long -- a nice complement to a morning coffee. One of the best parts about this feature is the sound. With no voice-overs and no music, there is nothing but cracks of the bat, balls hitting gloves and crowd eruptions. During games, At Bat 13 opens a flashy pitch-by-pitch simulation showing pitcher and batter statistics. Individual play summaries can be expanded to show the speed and type of each pitch, the count and the result. A graphical depiction of the field offers clickable player names for even more statistical data. A summary of the current game is offered, but during the World Series, video highlights are not populated until after the game has ended.
STAND UP DOUBLES: A mobile version of MLB Fan Cave hosts up to 20 videos suited for avid and casual baseball fans alike. Currently featured is "When Joe Kelly Grows Up," a video remake of a letter Cardinals P Joe Kelly wrote as a child. The clip brought a smile to my face and made me want to watch more Fan Cave videos. The app offers a help section filled with useful information for new users, and I referred to this section more than once. MLB.com Shop is nicely optimized for mobile. Also, lead-change alerts are a nice second screen feature for channel flippers.
BALKS: It took three games of infinite buffering to get the live audio feature to work. During Game 4, I clicked on "help" and switched the audio stream from HTTP Live Streaming to Shoutcast Default. The live audio features worked perfectly afterwards. The ticketing integration with Cardinals.com is mobile friendly, but the same cannot be said for RedSox.com, which links to a sloppily rendered desktop site. Also, social media integration is lacking. Social Clubhouse, the app's sole social presence, is a link to a dated registration page on Wap.MLB.com.
BOTTOM LINE: MLBAM impresses with the postseason version of At Bat 13. Aside from the fact that many of its features are on the injured reserve during the World Series, the app does a bang up job of presenting live play-by-play, scoring and pitch-by-pitch tracking for iOS. It is evident that the designers used care in ensuring its gameday features are robust and intuitive, yet simple enough for fans of all ages. A little more social and minor tweaks to dated links are recommended for '14.
Amie Sheridan (email@example.com) is a writer in Philadelphia.