SBD/July 15, 2014/Media

Rain Delay Hampers ESPN's Overnight Rating For Home Run Derby

ESPN drew a 3.9 overnight rating for last night’s MLB Home Run Derby, which was delayed by an hour due to rain and ended up airing from 9:00pm-12:00am ET, marking the net’s latest start on record for the event. That figure is down sharply from the 5.0 overnight last year. A’s LF Yoenis Cespedes won the contest both years. The event earned a 4.7 overnight in ’12 and a 4.8 in ’11. Despite the drop from recent years, the Derby was the top-rated program on call of cable TV last night. ESPN also saw an increase for its Derby digital audience (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).

TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE: Last night's event was completed in just under three hours after a rain delay pushed back the start of things for about an hour (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer). However, the length of the event drew the ire of plenty of sportswriters on Twitter. Deadspin's Timothy Burke wrote, "Home Run Derby broadcast (not counting rain delay) has now lasted longer than the Netherlands-Argentina match which went to penalties." The San Jose Mercury News' Tim Kawakami: "The great thing about this Home Run Derby is that by the time it's over the next World Cup will be just about to start." SI's Richard Deitsch: "This Home Run Derby has officially lasted longer than the Kim Kardashian/Kris Humphries marriage." The Boston Globe's Kevin Paul Dupont: "Home run derby is longer than the NHL season." The Minneapolis Star Tribune's Joe Souhan: "If the Home Run Derby had an icon, it would be a stopped-up hourglass." Writer Tommy Tomlinson: "One day we'll tell our grandchildren about the year they canceled the MLB season because the Home Run Derby never ended." Writer Joe Posnanski: "In a way, this Home Run Derby that will never end is a pretty good representation of the baseball season."

THROWING A CHANGE-UP
: In Detroit, Jamie Samuelsen writes one of his "favorite annual hiccups in sports is how each year, ESPN allots 2 hours in their broadcast schedule for the Home Run Derby." The Derby "always goes well past 2 hours and normally past 3.” It is “too long with too many breaks” and “by the end, it’s a mere battle of attrition with the trophy usually going to the hitter who can stay standing the longest.” Samuelsen suggests eliminating the “various rounds.” All the participants “get a round” and the top two scores would "advance to the finals.” The finals are “conducted over nine ‘innings’ like they used to do in the old Home Run Derby TV show that were shown on ESPN and ESPN Classic for years” (FREEP.com, 7/15).
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