Wednesday, November 5, 2014

World Series Ratings Down Again



The World Series this year featured great stories, the kinds that don't need media manufacturing and fluff. 

The Kansas City Royals find themselves in the World Series for the first time since 1985. Madison Bumgarner is now a cult hero. The series came down to Game 7 with a runner on third base, which apparently was only the third time ever. And the Giants themselves won their third World Series in five years.

Still, though, the series mustered an 8.2 rating and 14 share, which is along the lines of the 2008 World Series that featured the Philadelphia Phillies beating the Tampa Bay Rays in a wonky weather-delayed Game 5. 

This year's series was only the fifth ever to fall under a 10.0 rating, and it was the second-lowest ever to only 2012's 7.6. Many may look at the smaller market Royals as the blame for this. Remember, though, the Giants have been involved in three of these. 

As Ed Sherman pointed out on Awful Announcing, since the World Series went to Fox full-time beginning in 2000, ratings have never topped NBC's final World Series -- 1999 Yankees vs. Braves -- that garnered a 16.0.

One could point at the regional nature of baseball, which has seen strong local ratings (and massive local rights contracts) in recent years despite lower national ratings. The question is how big of a problem do people in charge see this as? 

Fox made a change this year, ousting Tim McCarver and bringing in Harold Reynolds and Tom Verducci to join play-by-play man Joe Buck. Obviously it didn't help ratings -- and the general Twitter opinion seemed to be please make Reynolds stop talking.

On the MLB's side, Bud Selig is going out and Rob Manfred is coming in as the new commissioner. Will Manfred bring a new focus on the national television product? We shall see. 

It's worth noting that Fox has broken 15.0 twice since taking over the broadcast -- 2001 (15.7) and 2004 (15.8). If those dates don't jump out to you, 2001 was the Yankees and the Arizona Diamondbacks, when Luis Gonzalez walked-off on the peak of the 90's Yanks dynasty all while in the patriotic shadow of 9-11. The 2004 World Series featured the Boston Red Sox breaking the 86-year curse.

Simply, it's too much to ask big markets to also carry big storylines. That's not a sustainable, long-term success model. The ball is in Fox and Commissioner Manfred's court to figure it out.

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Kevin Rossi is a senior Drexel Sport Management major with minors in Communications and Business Administration. Since joining the SMTSU, Kevin has worked his way up the ladder to President. Currently, Kevin is serving as the Sports Information Assistant for Drexel Athletics and  intern at Comcast SportsNet in web production. Kevin has writing experience with Philahoops.com, The Triangle, Temple University, and various outlets in a freelance capacity. Follow Kevin on Twitter @kevin_rossi.


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