Monday, October 29, 2007

Out-FOXed in the World Series

While the Red Sox are jumping for joy over another World Series title, I would bet that the same cannot be said for FOX television executives. The Red Sox pounded the Colorado Rockies in four straight games. That means fewer overall viewers and less ad space than if the series had run its full seven games.
No final ratings for the series have come out yet, but expect them to be in line with recent years, which means very low. To pull big numbers these days sports events need compelling stories, building drama or star power, all of which this series sorely lacked. Was Colorado ever ahead at any point in any game? The Rockies were a faceless group that got hot down the stretch, but then folded after getting hammered in the first game. I'm guessing that's probably when viewers started to tune out in droves.
FOX jiggled the schedule this year, having the series open on a weekday instead of a weekend, when the games have to compete with football. But if FOX is really serious about improving ratings how about scheduling the games so they finish at a reasonable hour? Every game ended after midnight in the east, where outside of Boston most people probably turned off the set early. Baseball is losing an entire generation of young fans who simply can't stay up that late to watch the games. Start at least a few games in the afternoon, even if you do have to compete with football.
That brings up another point--when you can see the breaths of the players and fans in the stadium it's not baseball weather. Baseball should either shorten the playoffs (which will never happen; the extra playoffs are a financial gold mine for owners) or shorten the season to 154 games and start the playoffs earlier (a much more reasonable alternative; 154 games was the standard season length before expansion). If the series had gone the full seven games it would have ended in November, which is ridiculous.
NBC lost money with baseball in the 1980s, and CBS lost millions in the 1990s. If FOX is serious about recouping its investment it's time to restore some common sense, and possibly higher ratings, to the World Series.


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