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Volume 26 No. 230
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TBS' Wild Card Rating Drops Against Debate; Stern Praised For Questioning Britton Non-Use

TBS earned a 3.3 overnight rating for the Blue Jays' extra inning, walkoff 5-2 win over the Orioles in the AL Wild Card last night. Faced with steep competition from the Vice Presidential debate, which ran from approximately 9:00-10:40pm ET, and the exclusion of the Toronto market (not Nielsen rated), that number is down 40% from a 5.5 for TBS' broadcast of Cubs-Pirates in last year's NL Wild Card. TBS in '14 drew a 3.8 overnight for the Royals-A's AL Wild Card. Last night's game peaked at a 4.0 rating between 10:45-11:00, and averaged a 3.8 overnight from 10:45-11:45, immediately after the debate ended. Baltimore led all local markets with an 18.0 rating, making it the highest-rated MLB game in the market since Game 3 of the '14 Royals-Orioles ALCS. Last night's game also was the highest-rated non-news program on cable (Josh Carpenter, Assistant Editor).

BRITTON FIRST: One aspect of TBS' broadcast that caused a stir on social media was the lack of coverage during the game of the Orioles' decision not to use closer Zach Britton, who was perfect on save opportunities throughout the season. MLB Network's Chris Rose tweeted, "TBS, please give us a shot of Britton walking out of the bullpen back to the dugout."  NBC Sports' Joe Posnanski: "TBS people. Hi. Great job. Listen: Can you talk about Zach Britton? Please?" Calkins Media's Kevin Cooney: "Poor job by TBS not bringing the Showalter decision up or showing Britton in the bullpen- even if he was just in a coat sitting." But others noted studio analyst Casey Stern in postgame coverage jumped right on the topic of Britton's absence. AP's Mike Sisak: "TBS studio crew picking up the slack for game crew, leading with lack of. Britton 'How in God's name is he not in this game?'" Richmond Int'l Raceway Dir of Communications Brent Gambill: "Rare sports broadcast moments when best analysis from game is not PBP crew or post game analysts but rather the post game host." Meanwhile, CSN New England' s Lou Merloni tweeted, "I would like to thank the TBS crew for making this unbelievable game the most boring unemotional greatest game I've ever seen."

CHECK YOUR LOCAL LISTINGS: In Chicago, Robert Channick notes the Cubs open the NLDS against the winner of tonight's Giants-Mets game on Friday at 9:00pm ET on FS1, their "network home throughout the playoffs." However, Saturday night's Game 2 will air at 8:00pm on MLB Network, which "may have viewers scrambling." MLB Network is "offering a free preview to customers of AT&T U-verse, Comcast, DirecTV, Dish, RCN and other pay-TV providers through Tuesday, making the game available to most Chicago-area homes" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 10/5).

AFTERNOON DELIGHT? The first two games of the Blue Jays-Rangers ALDS are afternoon starts, and the Dallas Morning News' Tim Cowlishaw said Rangers fans are “tired of these day games in the playoffs every year.” Cowlishaw: “People work around here. They want to see the games. They don’t care about playing second fiddle to the Red Sox or the Cubs. Play them at 9:00 at night, I don’t care. Give the fans a chance ... to get to the games” (“Around the Horn,” ESPN, 10/4).