Turner Sports is averaging a 2.9 overnight Nielsen rating through three days of MLB postseason coverage on TBS and TNT, up 16% from a 2.5 during the same period last year. Coverage yesterday, which included three games across the two nets, was up 18% from the comparable third day last year. TBS’ Yankees-Orioles ALDS Game One led the way with a 3.3 overnight. The game was scheduled to begin at 6:00pm ET, but was pushed back to an 8:30pm start due to inclement weather and aired directly against the Chargers-Saints “SNF” telecast on NBC. The Reds-Giants NLDS Game Two telecast was subsequently moved to TNT and earned a 0.9 overnight. Earlier in the day, Nationals-Cardinals Game One on TBS earned a 1.9 overnight. Meanwhile, MLB Network earned a 1.0 overnight for A’s-Tigers ALDS Game Two yesterday afternoon, which marked the net’s first-ever playoff game. That figure sets a record for MLB Net, surpassing the previous mark set by the debut of Nationals P Stephen Strasburg in June ’10, which earned a 0.6 overnight (Austin Karp, THE DAILY). USA TODAY’s Michael Hiestand writes MLB Network's “first-ever playoff game coverage was solid.” But having the post-season game on MLBN “no doubt sent lots of viewers looking for MLBN on their dials -- or grumbling if they don't get it.” That is “one reason MLB put playoff action on its own channel” (USA TODAY, 10/8).
FRIDAY/SATURDAY NIGHT: TBS averaged a 2.5 U.S. rating and 3.9 million viewers for the first two nights of MLB postseason coverage on Friday and Saturday, up 25% and 26%, respectively, from the first two nights of postseason coverage last year. The net averaged 3.1 million viewers for the Saturday night LDS doubleheader featuring A’s-Tigers Game One at 6:00pm and Red-Giants Game One at 9:30pm, up 8% from the first day of coverage last year. TBS also averaged 4.6 million viewers on Friday night for the first-ever Wild Card matchups featuring Cardinals-Braves and Orioles-Rangers (Turner Sports).GOOD TRIO IN THE BOOTH: In Baltimore, David Zurawik writes TBS’ broadcast team of Ernie Johnson, Cal Ripken Jr. and John Smoltz “is a winner.” Johnson’s “easygoing style creates a solid and steady baseline that allows Ripken and Smoltz to concentrate on talking viewers inside the game.” Meanwhile, TBS had “near-instant replays and multiple camera angles of major plays.” TBS so far this postseason is doing “a fine job” (Baltimore SUN, 10/8). In N.Y., Bob Raissman writes Ripken “delivered” last night in the booth for Yankees-Orioles ALDS Game 1. That Ripken “walked into the booth with unbreakable ties to the franchise he still remains the face of was no big deal.” TBS has “no concern for those who perceive that Ripken comes to the microphone tainted with a built-in bias.” He “brought a veteran analyst’s presence” and “kept his analysis balanced” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/8). In Tampa, Tom Jones writes he thinks Ripken "can call an unbiased baseball game," but it is a "bad idea for TBS to assign him to Orioles games if the network can help it.” He is “too associated with the Orioles” and “should be calling one of the other playoff series” (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 10/8).
WHAT'S MY NAME AGAIN? The Baltimore SUN's Zurawik noted during TBS’ coverage of the Orioles-Rangers AL Wild Card Game on Friday a graphic identified Ripken as “Carl Ripken, Jr.” Zurawik: “It makes me angry, because I was otherwise so impressed with the team of play-by-play announcer Ernie Johnson and analysts John Smoltz and Ripken.” The overall “production values were solid, too.” Zurawik: “I kept hoping the folks at MASN were watching so they might see the kinds of illuminating camera angles and transporting images that are possible when the director and at least one or two of the camera operators are trying” (BALTIMORESUN.com, 10/6). Meanwhile, in N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes TBS “can’t plainly and clearly post the score, the inning, the number of outs and the count for instant recognition.” Viewers “have to find, then decipher dots and dashes.” Mushnick: “Ya gotta break the code” (N.Y. POST, 10/8).
HAWAIIAN PUNCH: MLB.com’s Mark Newman reported Dodgers LF Shane Victorino “will join TBS as a studio analyst Monday through Wednesday as part of the network's ongoing Division Series coverage.” Victorino will “work alongside host Matt Winer, Dennis Eckersley and David Wells in the Atlanta studio.” Victorino is “a replacement for Dodgers teammate Matt Kemp, who underwent shoulder surgery on Friday” (MLB.com, 10/7).
HERE COMES THE SUN: Turner Sports attributed problems that caused video to freeze for minutes at a time during the Nationals-Cardinals game yesterday on atmospheric issues related to the Fall Equinox. "It's not a Turner specific issue but an issue that can impact other television networks due to the Fall Equinox," Turner Sports Senior VP/Communications Sal Petruzzi e-mailed yesterday. Several tweets mentioned similar problems for other sporting events on other networks over the weekend. Turner Sports said outages of up to several minutes per day are most likely to occur between Oct. 4-12. "The potential for these types of outages occur twice a year, during the spring and fall, when solar radiation can interfere with satellite signals when the sun is in direct line with a communication satellite," Petruzzi said (John Ourand, THE DAILY).
BAD CALL: The AP’s Tim Dahlberg wrote, “Baseball is not supposed to be decided in one game. Never was, no matter how much extra money it brings Bud Selig and his owners.” The controversial infield fly rule called during Friday’s Cardinals-Braves NL Wild Card Game “highlighted the absurdity of a sudden-death playoff system thrown together quickly and without a great deal of careful thought.” The expanded wild card is “more of a gimmick that punishes the wild-card entry with the best record and makes the 162-game regular season even less meaningful.” There is “too much emphasis put on one game, too many chances that something weird -- like a bizarre infield fly rule call -- causes an entire season to suddenly go bad” (AP, 10/6). ESPN.com's J.A. Adande said, "I love the drama of a one game showdown for the season riding on it -- but it’s really not fair to the players at all." ESPN’s Bomani Jones said, “This is not fair. You don’t play 162 to play only one unless there’s a tie and we don’t have ties.” Columnist Kevin Blackistone: "It’s almost like the play-in game in the NCAA Tournament. Why are you having this?” The format is “good for the dollar bills in baseball, that’s what’s it got for. It’s good for selling some more tickets to one more game” but it “cheapens the sport” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 10/5). But in N.Y., Bill Madden wrote MLB “got it right with this extra wild card.” Madden: “Let this be a lesson: No matter how good you think your team is, when you allow your season to come down to one game, stuff can happen.” Selig “can deservedly take a bow” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/7).