As we’ve been reporting, based on the ratings for Games One through Three of the NLCS, TBS was going to see the lowest rated LCS in television history.
Now, with Game Four’s rating numbers in the mix, that projection is now fact.
The national average for the NLCS comes in at 2.8% of metered households.
And, to add to the national apathy, the games did not rate high on the local level. As Michael Hiestand of USA Today reports:
Worse yet, even the hometown fans weren't all that interested. TBS' NLCS games averaged 26.4% of TV households in Denver and 13.6% in Phoenix. That's down from last year's New York Mets-St. Louis Cardinals NLCS, which drew 31.3% in St. Louis and 15.8% in New York, which has more than twice as many households as Phoenix and Denver combined.
And last year's NLCS had more appeal in big cities. The markets in which it got its highest ratings (after St. Louis and New York) were No. 2 Los Angeles, No. 4 Chicago and No. 5 Philadelphia. TBS' top cities, after Denver and Phoenix: No. 47 Memphis, No. 27 San Diego and No. 43 Las Vegas.
David Levy, president of Turner Sports, which has a seven-year MLB deal, agrees game times weren't the problem — "it had nothing to do with times" — and cites one pivotal factor: "It was the teams."
Back to the national average rating of 2.8% what was comparable? As reported further:
In college football, ESPN's most recent coverage of the Emerald Bowl drew 3.7%, its Chick-Fil-A Bowl 4%. In golf, CBS' final-round telecast of the Nissan Open, Wachovia Championship and Bridgestone Invitational each drew 3.4%. And baseball this year got better ratings with ESPN's Home Run Derby (4.3%) and ABC's Little League World Series final (3.3%).
Tim Lemke of the Washington Times weighs in on the ratings as well today (Ratings Plunge for NLCS):
"The moving of the start times was an educated gamble to try and cater to the all-West matchup," said Maury Brown, [founder and president] of the Web site bizofbaseball.com and a contributor to Baseball Prospectus. "By shifting the times, televisions executives and MLB know that these two teams have had little coverage on the East Coast and therefore are looking to capture as much viewers as possible where they have had the most coverage — the West."
Brown, who resides in Portland, Ore., suggested the teams involved in the series played a bigger role in the ratings dip.
"The difficulty is that MLB — and professional sports as a whole — is a star-driven entertainment industry," he said. "The Diamondbacks and Rockies are not laced with stars, and therefore, even in the West, interest has been lukewarm at best, with Denver and Phoenix the possible exceptions."
So much for my "possible exceptions" comments as I had not seen the ratings at the time. When the numbers were published today, I was more than a bit surprised.
TBS response to the ratings was that although the ratings for this NLCS was abysmal, the ratings will average out over the life of the agreement due to other markets being in the mix. Welcome to The Ratings Game.
Maury Brown is the founder and president of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football and The Biz of Basketball (The Biz of Hockey will be launching shortly). He is also a contributor to Baseball Prospectus.
He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted here.