So sayeth the Wall Street Journal:
Lousy weather, delayed games and a lackluster matchup hurt World Series ratings last October, but household ratings for Fox Saturday Baseball, the sport’s so-called Game of the Week, are off 9% to date from last season, and 23% from 2000 . . .
. . . Fox Sports spokesman Lou D’Ermilio confirmed network executives will head to Milwaukee next week to strategize with Commissioner Bud Selig about reversing the downward trends. “The purpose of the meeting is to find a way to boost the ratings for the All-Star Game and the World Series,” he said. Plans include showing baseball movies on Sunday afternoons on Fox’s sister channel FX, and promotional ads with broadcasters Joe Buck and Tim McCarver.
Forgive me if I don’t agree that throwing more Joe Buck and Tim McCarver at the problem is the right answer. Indeed, each time I’ve checked my guide on Saturday afternoons this season to see whose playing, I notice that something called “The Tim McCarver Show” is the lead-in. Instead of clicking over to something as ominous sounding as that, I usually just keep watching whatever bad 1980s movie is on basic cable at that time, and hey, sometimes I forget to click back. And I’m a baseball freak. Imagine what normal people do.
McCarver-bashing aside, I wonder if it’s desirable to mess with start times a bit. I can’t speak for everyone, but my Saturdays are pretty much set in stone by 3:30 or 4pm, and if I don’t specifically plan to watch the Game of the Week that day, odds are I’m not going to see it. I’ll be out with the kids or working in the yard or something. Granting that west coasters would complain, but I wonder if a 1pm start wouldn’t do better. Heck, maybe the west coasters wouldn’t complain. Everyone I know who lives out there talks about how awesome it is to wake up and watch early football and still have the whole day ahead of them. Baseball would have to be the same way, wouldn’t it?
Unlike a lot of things, I don’t even pretend to know what I’m talking about when it comes to television ratings, so take that for what it’s worth. I’m just trying to think of ways to boost ratings that don’t involve insufferable promos.