SBJ/Nov. 1, 2010/This Week's Issue

Fox doesn’t think Cablevision dispute will sink Series ratings

Fox’s dispute with Cablevision is not expected to hurt the network’s World Series ratings too much, according to several network and ad buying sources.

But the loss of 3 million New York-area subscribers could make it difficult for the network to meet its World Series rating guarantee, which sources say is between a 12.0 and a 14.0 this year, depending on the advertiser. Last year, the Yankees-Phillies World Series, which went six games, averaged an 11.7 rating, according to The Nielsen Co.

Fox’s local affiliates went dark on Cablevision’s New York-area systems Oct. 16. The two have been negotiating off and on during the ensuing two weeks, but at press time they did not appear to be close to a deal.

Before the World Series started, Fox expected its dustup with Cablevision to result in a 3 percent ratings drop, sources said. If the Yankees had made the World Series, that ratings drop-off likely would have been as high as 5 percent.

“There’s a knee-jerk expectation that if you pull 3 million homes out of the No. 1 market, it’s going to be a crippling impact to your rating,” one source said. “In the big picture of 116 million homes, it’s a marginal hit to have to take.”

Fox sold its World Series ads before its channel went dark on Cablevision. It was commanding between $400,000 and $450,000 per 30-second spot, sources said.

Should World Series ratings fail to hit the guarantee, Fox is expected to provide make-goods elsewhere on its schedule.

“We’re in close contact with Fox,” said Jeremy Carey, U.S. director and media buyer for Optimum Sports. “We’re confident they’ll make sure all our deals are taken care of.”

Fox also is expecting to see a ratings drop-off from the NFL due to the dispute. The one Giants game that Fox broadcast since Oct. 16 was about four-tenths of a ratings point lower than it would have been for its national rating. The game brought a 40 percent lower rating than the local Fox affiliate typically gets in the New York market.

For any NFL window that doesn’t feature the Giants or Jets, Fox is expecting an impact of two-tenths of a national ratings point.

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