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MLB Delivers Big Prime Time Ratings In Local Markets

Jason Barrett

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Television ratings for baseball games on regional sports networks saw ratings increase in 2015, based on information from Nielsen for the 29 domestic clubs in Major League Baseball.

To add, 25 of the 29 rated #1 on cable while one-third of the league ranked #1 across all networks during the season in prime time, making baseball the key summer content for advertisers.

Leading the way were the Kansas City Royals with a whopping 12.98 ratings average on FOX Sports Kansas City for the season, up 82% from the 7.15 average they posted last season. It is the highest local ratings in baseball over the past 13 seasons. Ratings increase were driven by their World Series appearance last year, and following up with an outstanding 2015 regular season going 95-67. They were followed by the St. Louis Cardinals who saw a 10.86 average rating on FOX Sports Midwest up 32% from last year when they ranked 3rd in all the league. Coming in third were the Pittsburgh Pirates who finished with the 3rd best record in all of baseball. They posted a 9.15 on ROOT Sports, up 8% from the 8.49 in 2014.

The largest increase in ratings came by way of the NL Wild Card winning Chicago Cubs who saw a 3.6 ratings average, up from 1.54 last season on CSN Chicago.

On the downside, the disappointing season by the Detroit Tigers were reflective in the ratings. The club held the top ratings at the local level last season but dropped to 4th in the league posting a 6.42 rating on FOX Sports Detroit down 25% from the 8.58 rating last year.

Putting the most significant drag on substantial ratings increases for the league was the Chicago White Sox. The club from the South Side of Chicago rated last in the ratings in 2014 and did so again this season, just in more dramatic fashion. Ratings on CSN Chicago were down 28%, making them the only club to see ratings below a 1 household rating. That’s saying something considering the Dodgers pulled a 1.03 with carriage only on Time Warner and Charter in the Los Angeles area. The White Sox could only muster the 7th highest ratings on cable in the Chicago area for CSN Chicago, and 17th across all of television.

Other highlights:

    • Despite a lackluster season in the standings, the San Diego Padres saw ratings increase 24% on FOX Sports San Diego.
    • While they continue to be abysmal with their attendance, the Tampa Bay Rays ranked 11th in the ratings.
    • The New York Yankees made the playoffs after missing them for two consecutive seasons. The Bronx Bombers were competitive most of the season, and yet ratings dropped on YES Network from a 3.41 in 2014 to 3.06 in 2015.
    • The Mets stormed the NL East after the trade deadline and ran away with the Division. If fans were less impressed with the Yankees that certainly wasn’t the case for the Mets. Ratings were up a whopping 63% over last season pulling a 2.84 rating on SNY compared to a 1.74 last season.
    • While we didn’t have ratings for last season for the Houston Astros on CSN Houston, getting their TV deal sorted out on ROOT Sports has helped them as the team won the AL Wild Card. While the Astros ranked 23 in the league by U.S. clubs, they posted a 2.42 HH rating. That was ahead of the Atlanta Braves who saw a 37% drop in the ratings.

To see the ratings for each market, visit Forbes where this article was originally published

Sports TV News

Nick Wright: The Best Version of First Things First is What We’re Doing Now

“I used to approach the TV show with the perspective of I have to prove how smart I am to the audience every single day.”

Ricky Keeler

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Nick Wright has been a co-host on First Things First on FS1 for the last five-and-a-half years. The show has evolved over the years and according to Wright, he has evolved as a broadcaster from the time he got cut from doing play-by-play at WAER in Syracuse to now.

Wright was a guest on The Colin Cowherd Podcast this week and he said that when he first appeared on television, he wanted the audience to think he had all the answers, but the mindset has changed for him and he said the new version of the show that he does with Kevin Wildes and Chris Broussard every weekday is the most successful version of the show.

“When I got on TV, I think the first year maybe, I thought the job was to always have all the answers. To have the facts exactly right, to never be wrong. I’ve now done the show for five-and-a-half years. By a country mile, the most successful version of the show is the one I’m doing right now — this moment — with Wildes and Broussard. It’s the funniest and that’s why.

“I used to approach the TV show with the perspective of I have to prove how smart I am to the audience every single day. Now I approach it as our entire goal is to put on a show that people smile while they are watching and have a good time and that has enough meat to it where it is not all empty calories. There’s got to be the information, there’s got to be the analysis, but there’s also got to be a lot of bells and whistles and funny stuff and guys messing with each other and that’s what works. That took me a while to figure out.”

The only time when Wright didn’t think he had to prove how smart he was when he first appeared on TV was when he would appear on The Herd as Cowherd’s guest and he had a goal in mind whenever he would appear on the show.

“Early in our relationship, I was really, really trying to impress you and I wanted to make you laugh. Every time I came on, I was like ‘It’s successful if I made Colin laugh’. I was too stupid to realize I should just be trying to make the audience laugh, too… That was the best version of me at the time. I felt like you knew I was smart, so I wasn’t trying to prove it to you. I could be the best version of myself.”

While Wright knows he is not a traditional broadcaster, he mentioned to Cowherd that there is one skill set he definitely knows he has.

“The point is I’m not a great broadcaster, like a traditional broadcaster. I can’t read off a teleprompter, but there is a specific thing I can do, which is confidently argue, whether it’s 1-on-1 with my wife or in front of a million people.”

Even though Wright got cut from doing play-by-play at Syracuse, he told Cowherd he was doing talk shows at the station still and it led him to where he is today.

“I was fortunate that I was already working on the talk-show staff. Growing up, I thought I wanted to do play-by-play, but what I wanted to do was color commentary. I would watch the NBA on NBC with Bob Costas, Bill Walton, and Steve ‘Snapper’ Jones and what I wanted to do was the color, but I didn’t realize you can’t do that unless you are a former player or a former coach. They aren’t hiring me to do commentary

“I was crushed, but it made me fully pivot to talk shows. Now at WAER, the talk show studio is named after me and my picture is on the wall. I am a Hall of Famer there. Bob Costas, Marv Albert, Nick Wright, those are the three studios there.”

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Sports TV News

Outside the Lines Won’t Return to ESPN Weekend Schedule

The show, which debuted in 1990, aired as a daily show from 2003 to 2019 and aired a Sunday-edition from 2000 to 2017.

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ESPN has decided to not return Outside the Lines to its weekend lineup, ending the show’s linear television run.

A report from John Ourand of Sports Business Journal claims ESPN told OTL staffers that the show wouldn’t return to the network after the Super Bowl.

The show, which debuted in 1990, aired as a daily show from 2003 to 2019 and aired a Sunday-edition from 2000 to 2017. Outside the Lines was often regarded as the “moral compass” of ESPN, and was often the source of some of the more investigative reporting employed by the network.

Outside the Lines — which was airing at 9:00 AM on Saturday mornings — averaged 303,000 viewers in the timeslot. Meanwhile, SportsCenter: AM has seen an average audience of 572,000 in the same window.

The Outside the Lines brand will continue being utilized during the Noon ET SportsCenter, as well as ESPN digital platforms, including the network’s YouTube page.

Jeremy Schaap will continue to host the Outside the Lines segments during SportsCenter, but will also be the host of a new iteration of The Sports Reporters that will air on ESPN’s YouTube channel. Schaap’s father, Dick, was the host of the ESPN Sunday morning program from 1988 until his death in 2001. The show aired on ESPN from 1988 to 2017.

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Sports TV News

CBS: Calling Meeting With Tony Romo ‘Intervention’ is ‘Complete Mischaracterization’

“We meet regularly with our on-air talent.”

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An opening question in broadcasting circles is ‘What happened to Tony Romo?’, with even CBS reportedly pondering the issue.

During The Marchand and Ourand Sports Media Podcast earlier this week, The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand claimed CBS attempted “an intervention” with its lead NFL analyst.

The intended mission of several alleged meetings with CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus and CBS NFL producer Jim Rikhoff was to return Romo to his previous heights, which were widely regarded as the best NFL analyst in the business.

CBS Sports has responded to the insinuation that the meetings would be classified as an “intervention” with a strong denial.

“To call this an intervention is a complete mischaracterization, we meet regularly with our on-air talent,” CBS Sports spokeswoman Jen Sabatelle told Marchand

Marchand added that CBS Sports officials plan to attempt to rectify the issues it sees with Romo again this offseason. Romo — who signed a 10-year, $180 million contract with CBS Sports in 2020 — is slated to call Super Bowl LVIII in 2024 with Jim Nantz.

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