Thursday, October 31, 2013

Early Ratings For 2013 World Series Very Weak

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it...

We know that no one noticed when the Giants won their recent titles. Same goes for this year's contest:

By any measure, the 2013 World Series should be a big television draw. The Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals are historic franchises with terrific national followings, and they're attractive teams with great pitching and plenty of interesting storylines.

So why is this Fall Classic getting a relative ho-hum reaction from baseball fans, who are delivering another series of mediocre overnight TV ratings and appear to be spending more time at the water cooler actually drinking water than talking baseball?

This is not a new phenomenon. National TV viewership of the World Series took a dramatic fall in 2005 and reached an all-time low last October. The ratings have edged up some over the first five games this year, helped by a couple of crazy finishes over the weekend, but this Series still is on pace to post the third-worst average audience since Major League Baseball's postseason moved to prime time.

There are a number of variables you have to consider if you're trying to make sense of that. The baseball postseason now competes with pro football three nights a week instead of one. The NFL kicked off Sunday Night Football on NBC in 2006 and recently expanded its Thursday Night Football schedule to 13 weeks, which, along with an expanded prime-time college schedule, has to explain some fragmentation of the sports viewership.

MLB magnified that with the decision to go to a one-weekend World Series format in 2007, starting on a Wednesday (instead of a Saturday) and putting Game 5 in direct competition with Monday Night Football.

Of course, ratings are also driven by the size of the TV markets that take baseball's biggest stage, but that appears to be only a factor in the modest variability of the recent numbers. The proof of that may be found in the last World Series before the big 2005 ratings drop-off, which matched up the same two teams vying for the world championship this year and which drew nearly twice the average number of viewers per game.

Maybe it's that no one cares about the Red Sox and Cardinals. Chew on that, Mr. Selig.


rbnlaw said...

The "Best Fans in Baseball" are only about 40,000 strong, it would seem.

Suck it, St. Looie.

Dusty Baker said...

Just throwing this out there: I think part of the issue with the WS (and it's similar with NBA finals) is that modernly, so many people check out if their teams either aren't in the playoffs or get knocked out during the playoffs. Hell, around this space, many folks claimed they weren't watching. (And that's fine - not knocking you.) This is decidedly different from the (highly watched) NFL main event - the Super Bowl - where people watch in droves no matter what teams are playing.

Thus, MLB's challenge is to attract a much wider audience interested in the game itself, and a hopefully exciting outcome, and not just fans of the specific teams competing. Good luck with that!

And what the hell IS wrong with all y'all fans of the game who didn't watch? Lingering Dodger bitterness?

Headless Horseman said...

Anyone seen Joe Kelly? I have a ummm present for him.

rbnlaw said...

I watched when it fit my schedule. I will admit to not going out of my way to watch as I had no dog in the hunt.

The SB's popularity seems to revolve around making the game the center of a party (albeit on a Sunday afternoon) during the doldrums of sports seasons. Sort of a "good-bye football; hello baseball" event.

140 days or so until Opening Day.