This afternoon, ESPN Radio’s Dan Patrick has offered his own, not-so-scientific analysis of the World Series’ lower than low ratings, along with the annual plea (echoed by several listeners) that perhaps Fox could think of the kids, ie., schedule a Series game or two in the afternoon.
The notion that baseball – or any sport – would accept less money is absurd even if it is logical to those who advocate earlier games to appeal to young or dozing fans. But leagues never willingly accept less cash from the television networks; if a network wants to pay less, leagues find more willing suitors.
The flip side is that networks pay dearly to carry marquee sports that will help in prime time, but those hefty price tags must be supported by selling more commercials, which cause the length of games to bloat.
Some fans resist the idea that baseball is a prime-time entertainment product like a drama, a comedy or a reality series. Fox uses World Series games as prime-time chess pieces; the games would wield less power in the day. Prime time begins at 8 p.m. Eastern time on every day but Sunday, when it starts at 7, but Fox will not cut football (which is much costlier) to start the World Series earlier. An N.F.L. game is a most powerful lead-in.
There is nostalgia about daytime World Series games, a fuzzy feeling that returns us to the pre-Walkman, pre-iPod days of sneaking transistor radios into classrooms while feigning interest in biology. Until 1971, every World Series game was carried in the daytime, according to Nielsen Media Research; that year, one game was carried in prime time. In 1972, there were two night games, but there were three in each of the next two years. In 1975, the tide turned, and five of the seven games in the Boston-Cincinnati Series were in prime time.
From 1977 to 1984, there were two weekend day games in each Series and none during the next two years. The last one was in 1987, when the Minnesota Twins defeated the St. Louis Cardinals in a seven-game series.
Patrick should be enouraged, however, that his parent company’s telecast of the MLS Cup will take place in the afternoon.
It was quite an afternoon for Olbermann’s past running mate yesterday, as his guests included Lawrence Taylor (plugging his new “Playmakers”-esque video game) and George Bush The First. I tuned in earlier in the day just in time to hear a squeaky voiced male rambling on about all the things Bill Romanowski was forced to do during his playing days in order to “slay the dragon”.
My first thought was, “wow, this guy has quite a crush on Romo.” It took me about 5 minutes to figure out that this was, in fact, Bill Romanowski himself. Apparently, Romo’s Promo tour is all part of the healing process.