SBD/August 21, 2014/Media

Mo'Ne Davis Helps ESPN Earn Best-Ever Overnight Rating For Little League Game

Thanks to Davis' recent stardom, ESPN earned a 3.4 overnight rating
Mo'Ne Davis' team might not have won last night's LLWS game, but her presence on the mound led to ESPN's highest-rated game ever from Williamsport. The net earned a 3.4 overnight rating for Nevada’s 8-1 win over Pennsylvania, up 143% over the 1.4 figure ESPN received for the comparable California-Connecticut game in ’13. Las Vegas led all markets with a 16.3 overnight, followed by Philadelphia with a 14.9 (Josh Carpenter, Staff Writer). THE BIG LEAD's Jason McIntyre notes the Angels-Red Sox game that aired on ESPN2 opposite the LLWS earned just a 0.3 rating. McIntyre: "Everything lined up for a big rating, and ESPN got one. But 17x what the Red Sox and Angels did on ESPN2 at the same time? That’s surprising" (THEBIGLEAD.com, 8/21). In Chicago, Philip Hersh writes ESPN and its various platforms "set the agenda for the nation's sports discussions," and the net "relentlessly promoted" Davis' start last night (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 8/21). Meanwhile, the HOUSTON CHRONICLE wrote what turned out to be the Texas team's final game in the LLWS for "drew bigger television ratings than the Astros’ dramatic win over the Yankees on Tuesday. Final score: Pearland 3.7, Astros 0.3" (CHRON.com, 8/20).

DAVIS CHANGING OPINIONS: In Atlanta, Steve Hummer wrote he had always "held the Little League World Series at arm’s length, refusing to watch just as I would any other form of televised child abuse." But he planned to watch Davis pitch last night because the ease with which she "has handled all this, the natural joy which shines through all the clutter that adults have constructed around her, has made me put a good number of my reservations about this event in escrow." Hummer: "This LLWS has been a mind-changer. At least temporarily" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 8/21). Dallas Morning News columnist Tim Cowlishaw said he has long had "trouble" with the LLWS being televised, whether it is "telling these 12-year-old winners how great you are on a national level or focusing on the kids crying after a loss." But Cowlishaw said he was "excited" for Davis because "she is a great story." L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke said the LLWS "should not be on TV," but acknowledged he planned to tune in last night. Plaschke: "There's a message here that's bigger than all that. It's a message about gender equity and female empowerment and it's … too big to ignore" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 8/20).

MAKING AN IMMEDIATE IMPACT: In N.Y., Jere Longman writes Davis' ascendance "has been reminiscent" of the '99 FIFA Women's World Cup. But in today’s "hyper news-media landscape, Davis’ impact has been more immediate, her story perhaps even more broadly resonant." She is a "girl starring in a sport dominated by boys that has a wider overall appeal than soccer" in the U.S. Davis has "helped disarm stereotypes, thriving in an elite private school and hinting that opportunity, not interest, might be the biggest cause of declining urban participation in baseball" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/21). The N.Y. Daily News' Frank Isola said, "Baseball has a problem trying to grow the game in the inner city. ... This is a great advertisement for baseball" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 8/20).

SHOW ME THE MONEY ... ER, MO'NE: USA TODAY's Josh Peter reports a baseball reportedly autographed by Davis has "turned up for sale on eBay," and demand had "driven the price up to $500 on Wednesday." About 40 other items "featuring Mo'ne, many alleged to be autographed by her, also were for sale on the website." Little League Int'l President & CEO Steve Keener said, "It's ridiculous. That's absurd. (But) I don't know how you would ever control it." Steiner Sports Founder & CEO Brandon Steiner said that he "would pay Mo'ne at least $25,000 to autograph between 500 to 1,000 items and estimated she could make up to $100,000 on the deal." But Steiner added that he "wouldn't make the offer because it could jeopardize Mo'ne's eligibility to play college athletics" (USA TODAY, 8/21). Columnist Kevin Blackistone said it is "good to see all this Mo'Ne love," but he noted he is concerned that people are now "exposing younger and younger athletes to the professional world of sports." Blackistone: "We're also seeing the commercialization of sports getting ratcheted down and down and down and now capturing even younger kids from who you can make a profit" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 8/20).
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