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Post Season Matchups - Critical for FOX PDF Print E-mail
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Written by The Staff   
Monday, 25 September 2006 06:10

FOX broadcastingUnlike the NFL, post-season ratings can make up a considerable portion of the ratings for MLB, and therefore ad revenues, for networks that have broadcast contracts, as is currently the case with News Corp's FOX network. FOX recently inked a new deal that starts in 2007, extending their relationship with MLB.

TV sports executives start to look for what match-ups will come out of the regular season into the playoffs, and with that try to determine if ratings will be high or low. As the Wall Street Journal reports (free for one week from publication date, then subscribers only):

More so than with other major sports, Fox bet that money on what happens when the regular season is over, especially on the World Series. Not only are some matchups more attractive than others, but a series can flame out in four blowout games, or stretch for a sublime seven. A bland, short series means fewer ad sales and a poorer platform with which to promote the network's new prime-time entertainment lineup, which will begin airing after the monthlong orgy of playoff baseball.

"Probably 75% of the economics are wrapped up in the postseason," said former CBS Sports president Neal Pilson, now a sports television consultant.

Football, by contrast, gets big ratings all season long, and in the postseason, interest is always high, no matter who is playing. Some Super Bowls get bigger ratings than others, but the sport is truly national and the range is narrow. Baseball, more regional, more tribal, is prone to much fluctuation. World Series ratings sometimes swing by nearly 30% from year to year. In 2004, the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals were a hit; last year, Chicago and Houston produced an all-time ratings low. While those cities are large television markets, the Astros and the White Sox didn't have a national following and Chicago's four-game sweep didn't help, either.

 As noted in the article, the percentage of households that tune into the World Series has dropped since 1981. Recall that having a Yankees v. Mets World Series isn't a recipe for successful ratings. The Subway Series in 2000 garnered the lowest ratings ever up to that point.

 
Time Warner Cable Misses Dodgers Start PDF Print E-mail
Written by The Staff   
Tuesday, 19 September 2006 01:25

Time Warner CableTime Warner Cable subscribers found themselves missing the first two innings of an historic game last night when the carrier showed Fox Sports Northwest instead of FSN Prime Ticket. Time Warner Cable started showing the Mariners v. Royals game instead of the Dodgers game, which saw 4 consecutive homeruns.

Jennifer Johnson, a spokesperson for FSN West and FSN Prime Ticket said that a technician in Houston, TX. solved the problem by rebooting Time Warner Cable's receiving system.

This issue componds an already angry Time Warner Cable sports  subsriber base after many Southern California sports fans were cutting off the NFL Network at midnight Friday. (The LA Times)

 
Jim Kaat Retiring After 50 Years PDF Print E-mail
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Written by The Staff   
Thursday, 14 September 2006 01:30

Jim Kaat

Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

Jim Kaat, 67, the legendary broadcaster and former player will end his 50 year career in baseball tomorrow when he throws out the first pitch of the Red Sox-Yankees game, and then call the game for the YES Network.

Kaat, had a 25-year playing career starting in 1959, pitching in MLB for the likes of the Senators, Twins, White Sox, Phillies, Yankees, and Cardinals.

His broadcasting career started in 1986 on Channel 11 but was bumped in favor of Billy Martin after the end of the season, something that did not sit particuarly well with Kaat at the time.

On Christmas Day in 1994, Kaat got a call from George Stienbrenner and has not left the Yankees broadcast team since.  As Richard Sandomir of the NY Times reports (50 Years in Game is Enough for Kaat ):

“I was heading out to hit golf balls, and Mary Ann said, ‘It’s George Steinbrenner,’ and I said, ‘Yeah, right,’ ” Kaat said. Steinbrerner called to say he had approved Kaat as the MSG Network’s replacement for Kubek.

“He said, ‘I want everything to be good between us,’ ” Kaat said.

Kaat picked an exquisite time to join the Yankees at the start of their playoff and World Series run. From MSG to YES, he has been a low-key star, never boisterous, never loud, but always with strong views, and that made him the equal of the more nationally known McCarver and Joe Morgan.

“He knows the game so well and gets to the essence of a play so quickly,” said John Filippelli, YES’s president of production. When he was at Fox Sports, he added: “The one mistake we made was that we should have hired Kitty. I think you rate him the equal of any analyst you’ve ever heard.”

 What are Kaat's plans in retirement? Spend time with family, play golf, and travel the country with his wife Mary Ann via RV.

 
Pirates End 51-year partnership With KDKA PDF Print E-mail
Written by The Staff   
Tuesday, 12 September 2006 12:00

Clear Channel will become the new radio broadcast partner for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2007, ending a 51-year partnership with KDKA. The Pirates and Clear Channel' entered a five-year strategic partnership that will air on WPGB FM NewsTalk 104.7, the Pirates' new flagship station.

With the change ends MLB's longest standing radio agreement at 51 years. KDKA -- at 50,000 watts of power -- has a far reaching audience, and the switch to WPGB will cut off fans of the Pirates that have listened to the station as far away as the East Coast and Canada due to the lack of broadcasting power.

Clear Channel Communications, in turn, will not only broadcast on WPGB, but five other affiliates in the region -- WDVE-FM, WKST-FM, WXDX-FM, WWSW-FM and WBGG FOX Sports Radio 970 AM.

"This is a significant milestone in Clear Channel Communications' history in the Pittsburgh market. The Pirates and Major League Baseball are valuable properties in this region that we will leverage to the fullest extent through WPGB 104.7 FM and our five other stations," said John Rohm, Senior Regional Vice President of Clear Channel. "It is exciting for us to partner with the team to bring Pirates baseball to their loyal fans and our loyal listeners."

"The strategic partnership with Clear Channel provides us with enhanced opportunities to reach a stronger and more targeted fan base that will help to build the Pirates brand," said Tim Schuldt, Pirates VP of Marketing, Sales and Broadcasting. "Clear Channel's far reaching commitments to the Pirates through ancillary programming and cross-promotion, combined with their listener demographics, size of audience share and growth trends of their stations, made Clear Channel the best choice for the Pirates."

WPGB will produce and broadcast all Pirates regular season games and 12 Spring Training games through the 2011 season.

Full programming details were not announced at this time.

 
MLB informs Dodgers VOD Deal Breaks Rules PDF Print E-mail
Written by The Staff   
Friday, 08 September 2006 06:15

MLB has informed the Dodgers that a deal between the club and Time Warner to create a Video On-Demand channel breaks with rules outlined a 2000 agreement under which the league, not clubs, control any "interactive media."

Launched on August 9th, the Dodgers On-Demand almost immediatly raised concerns from MLB as Bob DuPuy sent an email to all the clubs stating that clubs did not have the right to launch such braodcast holdings. As DuPuy said at in the email at the time, "That is why when clubs have submitted local broadcast agreements for review," the e-mail read, "the question of VOD has been put on hold."

Yesterday, Bill Shaikin of the LA Times reported (Dodgers Told TV Deal Breaks Rules):

The Dodgers' VOD channel currently features interviews and highlights of the 1981 championship season. The agreement permits teams to authorize "one-way transmission of radio and television," but a board comprised of DuPuy and several club owners ruled the Dodgers' channel is interactive because fans can stop, start, fast forward and rewind programming.

"The board interpreted that user interaction with the content, which is at the heart of what interactivity is, is a two-way communication," said Bob Bowman, president of Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM). "The board made the determination that Dodgers on Demand is a two-way communication and therefore interactive.

 MLBAM has yet to put in place a policy under which clubs can roll out VOD on cable and satellite systems.

 
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