Fox Seeing Dip For MLB Primetime Package; McCarver Set For Final Call In St. Louis
Fox is averaging a 1.8 final rating and 2.8 million viewers for four primetime regional telecasts as part of its ’13 MLB slate. Those figures are down slightly from a 1.9 rating and 2.9 million viewers through the first four primetime games last year. The net’s top telecast in primetime thus far was on June 1 with Red Sox-Yankees in 57% of markets. That telecast averaged a 2.2 rating and 3.3 million viewers. The same matchup was not featured until Fox' final primetime telecast last season (July 7), averaging a 2.4 rating and 3.8 million viewers (game was in 74% of markets). For its complete MLB schedule to date (10 telecasts), Fox is averaging a 1.6 rating and 2.4 million viewers, down 11% in both metrics compared to same period last year (11 telecasts). Fox is also seeing double-digit percentage declines among all key male demos (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor). Fox Sports Senior VP/Programming & Research Mike Mulvihill said, "I wish the story was a little better than it is, but it’s not unexpected for us to be down a little bit at this point of the year. I think we knew going into the season that we had backloaded our schedule." In Akron, George Thomas notes Fox this season has five telecasts featuring Red Sox-Yankees, "only one of which has aired." Mulvihill: "Given that, it’s not surprising that we’re down a little bit. The better news is yet to come for us." Blackhawks-Red Wings Game 5 of the NHL Western Conference Semifinals "airing on NBC beat Fox’s first week of prime-time baseball" on May 25. Mulvihill: "We certainly take note of it. Again, we set a prime-time schedule. We know what the likely competition is going to be. There is no surprise there really. The NHL is having a pretty successful postseason and so is the NBA." He added that national coverage is "important, but that a real barometer of what is happening with baseball comes from the regional sports networks Fox owns" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 6/21).
ST. LOUIS SWAN SONG: In St. Louis, Dan Caesar notes Fox' Tim McCarver is "set to make his final scheduled St. Louis broadcasting appearance on Saturday." McCarver said, "My whole professional life was formed here, and in many ways my personal life, too, being so close to (my hometown of) Memphis. Nothing takes the place of my memories of St. Louis." But Caesar writes viewers should not "expect a bunch of personal commentary on the air Saturday night from McCarver." Fox' Joe Buck said McCarver would be "uncomfortable" with a farewell tour. Buck: "That wouldn’t be him, he’s not that way. ... He doesn’t want confetti, anyone talking about this. We’ve talked about this a million times -- if he and I are walking into a stadium and get hit by a bus, they’re still going to play the game and it’s still going to be on. He knows the focus is on the field and not in the booth." Fox Senior Exec VP David Hill is "sad to see McCarver leaving." Hill: "He is, quite frankly, one of the best broadcasters I've ever worked with. ... He is one of those unique individuals that makes you so proud to work in this profession, and he’s leaving huge, huge shoes" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 6/21).