Neate Sager passes along an interesting column from Sports Business Journal offering predictions about the year in sports media. Here’s one we can wish for:
Postseason baseball games will start earlier this year.
First Fox announced that it is canceling its pregame show during baseball’s regular season. Now look for the broadcaster to start World Series games a half-hour earlier, closer to 8 p.m. ET. Fox has always maintained that later starting times helped ratings, which meant more people were watching. But this year, the World Series games went so much longer (average length for the three non-rain-delayed games was 3 hours, 15 minutes) and ended so late (average ending time was 11:43 p.m. ET) that ratings couldn’t keep up.
I’d love to see that. Though, in reality, the stated reason for canceling the pregame show was that it cost too much to produce. After all, to put the thing on, you gotta pay Zelasko and Grace and Kennedy and a bunch of technical people for something people are going to try to ignore in the first place. My guess about the start times is that someone somewhere has made the case that starting later is likely to lead to higher ratings earlier in the game which allows FOX to front-load expensive ads. Unless someone makes an opposite case based on some data of which we peons are not aware, I expect we will still see the later start times, with that first half hour filled with Joe Buck interviewing people or Tim McCarver changing the batteries in his hearing aid or something.