MLB Postseason Viewership Headed Into World Series At Best Level Since '11
MLB postseason games across ESPN, TBS, FS1, Fox and MLB Network are averaging 4.8 million viewers heading into the World Series, marking the league's best pre-Fall Classic figure since '11 (4.9 million). This year's average for 31 games (including two Wild Cards) is up 13% from 4.24 million viewers for 28 games heading into last year's World Series. TBS saw a big jump this year with the NL games, averaging 4.6 million viewers. That is up 46% from last year, when the net had two ALDS sweeps, as well as no figures from the Toronto market for the playoffs as the Blue Jays reached the ALCS. TBS' figure this year is down 27% from '15, when the net had four strong ratings draws in the Dodgers, Mets, Cubs and Cardinals. TBS this postseason had eight primetime wins when games aired on the net. TBS' pre- and post-game studios also saw gains, with viewership up 37% and 17%, respectively. Meanwhile, FS1's postseason viewership was down 2% for its package of AL games. Saturday night's Astros-Yankees ALCS Game 7 helped the net close the gap on last year, when FS1 had the benefit of a six-game Cubs-Dodgers NLCS. Astros-Yankees Game 7 averaged 9.9 million viewers, marking the net's most-viewed telecast on record. That tops the 9.7 million viewers for Cubs-Dodgers Game 6 last year. While down from '16, FS1's postseason average was up 68% from two years ago, when the net had the Toronto market issue through the ALCS. MLB Network averaged 2.7 million viewers for its two LDS games this season, down from 2.8 million last year, but well above the 1.6 million viewers from two years ago (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).
CAN'T PLEASE EVERYONE: In N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes Fox' John Smoltz during "tested the nerves" during ALCS Game 7. His assessment that Yankees RF Aaron Judge’s HR-saving catch in the second inning was "among the 'greatest Game 7 catches' -- it was a very good catch of a ball Judge reasonably should have caught or at least kept in play -- was heard as transparent hype." Smoltz also "attached 'great'" to Astros 2B Jose Altuve’s third-inning throw-out of Yankees 3B Chase Headley at first base, likely because Altuve "fielded the grounder in short right, as per the shift." Mushnick: "How great? It might’ve been scored an error had first baseman Yuli Gurriel not scooped Altuve’s low throw" (N.Y. POST, 10/23). Meanwhile, in Chicago, Barry Rozner wrote TBS' Ron Darling did "terrific work" during the NLCS. With an "old-school mentality, yet unafraid of and willing to embrace today's metrics, Darling's commentary comes off as easy and smooth" (Chicago DAILY HERALD, 10/22).
PAPI, DON'T PREACH: In N.Y., Bob Raissman wrote Fox' David Ortiz has "hijacked the studio proceedings from his analyst/partners Alex Rodriguez, Keith Hernandez, and Frank Thomas." Ortiz is a "funny guy who has a lot to say." Still, too much of Ortiz is "not a good thing." It puts his fellow analysts, all of whom are "unique in their own respects, in the role of second bananas." It also leaves viewers "with the feeling Ortiz is being forced upon them." With Ortiz "bogarting the proceedings," Rodriguez has been "interrupted while making a point." Then he is "forced to ad-lib for yucks" with Ortiz, which "isn’t Rodriguez’s strength" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/22).
DON'T GO LOOKING FOR SCULLY: In L.A., Tom Hoffarth noted Vin Scully has "no desire to be part of any sort of broadcast of the Dodgers’ upcoming World Series." Scully said, "I honestly don’t feel I belong there and I would not want anyone to think I was eager for a spotlight." However, Fox' Joe Buck said, "To have Vin come do some of the series with us and in my place would be an honor" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 10/21). The N.Y. DAILY NEWS' Raissman wrote there will be "calls for Fox to bring in baseball’s Poet Laureate and allow him to work a few innings during the Fall Classic." However, that "won't happen." Scully has "repeatedly said, especially during his farewell tour last season, that he was not into parachuting in and upstaging the event." That was "never his style." What Fox could do is "integrate Scully into their World Series coverage by making him the narrator of the openings to each game." There is "no better voice to caption that picture than Scully" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/22).
THE TIME IS NOW: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Jason Gay writes, "Can baseball deliver another revival moment?" Football has been "wilting under the spotlight lately." Could baseball "seize the opportunity?" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 10/23).