A Look Into FOX's Worst Nightmare, A Rays-Phils World Series

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


If you asked me before the Playoffs started, who I'd like to see in the World Series, I honestly would have said the Tampa Bay Rays and the Philadelphia Phillies. Not because of any affiliation or anything, but I genuinely like it when the same teams don't get in year after year. I've actually enjoyed the past few World Series because of that fact.

Well the same cannot be said about FOX, who is of course in the business of making money. The odd thing about the potential matchups for the W.S. is just the sheer difference of the best and worst result for the network could be. A Dogders, with Torre and Manny, Red Sox Series would put ratings through the roof. A Phillies-Rays Series, however, could possibly top the Cardinals-Tigers in 2006 as the lowest rated MLB championship ever.

Here's what some quotes collected by SBD about the dreaded Phils-Rays Series....

ESPN's Tim Kurkjian on PTI: “It would be a ratings disaster. Even though the Rays are the best story to me as a team since the ’69 Mets, that one doesn’t translate nearly as well as the Red Sox against the Dodgers with Joe Torre and Manny Ramirez coming back to Fenway Park. That was a story made for everybody. The other one isn’t going to nearly get the ratings as Boston-L.A. would”

ESPN's Mike Greenberg: “That sound you hear is the sound of executives at Fox crying right now over the possibility of a Rays-Phillies World Series."

SI's Tom Verducci: "But adding to the low profile problem of both teams is the playoff schedule with the extra off-days. We might be looking at as many as five straight days with no baseball by the time we get to World Series Game 1. By then, with any momentum killed, people will be out of the habit of tuning in to baseball and any of its storylines. In any case, what baseball really needs is an exciting seven-game series to develop a national narrative to draw in viewers."

LA Radio Host, Roger Lodge: “Television executives are about to jump off buildings in New York with that World Series”
While I wouldn't go that far, it actually might be time for say FOX to tell Joe Buck to stop going gah-gah over Manny, and actually give some background and storylines on the Phils. TBS has been trying to do that with the Rays all ALCS, and while it's occasionally been over-the-top, they've kept people interested in both teams. If you add in the fact that the Sox have a penchant for coming back from three games down, they're setting themselves up nicely.

I would personally be extremely interested, but the Rays magic just might not be enough to bring in the casual Baseball fan. Plus, FOX's ratings for the NLCS are already down 22.6% from the ALCS that they aired last year, isn't helping. We shall see though.

Ratings Disaster Waiting To Happen? (Sports Business Daily - $)

39 Comments:

True, Fox's ratings are down, but TBS' are up +53% among A 18-49 compared to the NLCS coverage they had last year. If anything though, it shows that without that large time match-up, and the delay, it'll be sad eyes over there.

Harv said...
Oct 15, 2008, 3:30:00 PM  

i really want to see a ratings poison rays vs. phillies series, because first, i'm a rays supporter and want to see them win the world series, and second, i'm sick and tired of the media ignoring almost every team in baseball not named the yankees or red sox. i want them to get a ratings poison series so that espn and fox will start paying attention to these teams earlier and not just assume the big market teams with the big name players will win all the time. but knowing them, they won't learn their lesson and may even ignore the world series, because all of the big name players are not in it. the reason they are getting no ratings is partly because the media ignores most teams and don't tell us about them until it's too late; classic case of too many eggs in a few baskets instead of a few in all of them.

Anonymous said...
Oct 15, 2008, 3:39:00 PM  

Yet again, the ratings don't mean anything for this year. It seems that all "baseball people" only want to talk about how bad ratings would be. FOX doesn't care because they already have their upfront money and most likely have no availability anyway for new ads.

The only reason this would hurt is when MLB negotiates a new contract with FOX.

Also tv ratings are down across the board. Ratings mean nothing for sports. NOTHING. The world series isn't being cancelled because of bad ratings for the 1st two games.

rs27 said...
Oct 15, 2008, 3:41:00 PM  

The Fox announcers are pathetic and don't even try to act like they are impartial. When Matt Stairs hit the game-winning homer for the Phillies the other night Joe Buck was very obviously disappointed.

I am a Phillies fan. Earlier this season when they were on Fox, Buck actually said this: "The Phillies have speed on the bases with Pat Burrell on first." I laughed so hard I almost fell off the sofa.

mediawatcher said...
Oct 15, 2008, 4:01:00 PM  

i was hoping for a rays- brewers series but this will work. i hate fox with a passion, everyweek we get the yankees or the red sox. as a yankees fan i get the same stories about how a-rod is the highest paid player, they havent won in 8 years, and that joba is great. even as a yankees fan i hate all the same obvious crap fox gives us during the game i must imagine that everyone else hates it even more. hopefully with this two things will happen, 1. fox will stop showing the same two teams everyweek and we'd get to see more rays, phillies, brewers etc. 2. fox will stop with all the ads during the game and actually show the game

Anonymous said...
Oct 15, 2008, 4:02:00 PM  

A Joe Buck sentence: "Noun, verb, Manny Ramirez."

mediawatcher said...
Oct 15, 2008, 4:06:00 PM  

Who gives a shit about what the host of Blind Date thinks about the World Series???

GMoney said...
Oct 15, 2008, 4:08:00 PM  

I absolutely disagree. Philadelphia is not only a Rabid sports town but it is one of the top 5 media markets in the country. This town is STARVED for a Championship. It is very likely that Philadelphia will draw at least 75%-80%of the Televisions in the Suburban Philly. That alone is 3-4 million viewers. Count another 500k displaced rabid Philadelphia fans across the country and you are looking at us a least pulling our share and then some.

Also you must Factor that this would be an all East Coast series drawing east coast viewers at normal regular primetime hours of 8pm EST

Factor in the novelty of the Rays, worst to first, whupping the Red Sox etc etc and you are looking at a decent number

While I dont think we would get massive RedSox/Yankee ratings I dont think it will be the disaster that the Cards/Tigers was.

Plus its time for the MLB to move on from Manny, Torre and the Sawx. If MLB were smart they would promote the shit out of the amazing young under 27 talent on both teams - Longoria, Crawford, Upton, Utley, Howard, Rollins, Hamels, Sheilds, Kazmir, etc.

The future is bright for the MLB and the time is now to introduce fans to the next generation of players.

GO PHILLIES!!!!

N Garrett said...
Oct 15, 2008, 4:09:00 PM  

i'm willing to risk fox's money on a horribly rated world series if it means that the fuckface chowds aren't in it.

i'd like to see the phillies win because like garrett said, that town needs a championship.

i'd also like to see the rays win just to twist that knife in the gut of cub's fans.

-dan

-dan said...
Oct 15, 2008, 4:19:00 PM  

Frankly, I could give a shit about Fox and their ratings. Screw 'em; screw Greenberg, and screw The Guy Whose Name Will Never Be Mentioned. If you don't want to watch it, change the fucking channel.

Bruce said...
Oct 15, 2008, 4:21:00 PM  

Tell Mr. Lodge that FOX executives are in LA, not NY.

Anonymous said...
Oct 15, 2008, 4:21:00 PM  

Seattle Radio Host, Chet Chesterman: “Television executives are about to jump off buildings holding their children in their hand after setting fire to their hired help in New York with that World Series”

Portland Radio Host, Brick Longshank: “Television executives are about to kick homeless people in the nuts and then jump off buildings in New York with that World Series”

Toldeo Radio Host, Knurl Chinchlobber: “Television executives are about to kill themselves then jump off buildings right onto a gathering of small children in New York with that World Series”

hollywood wags said...
Oct 15, 2008, 4:22:00 PM  

if fox wants a storyline, here's one: some of the rays fans noted that rays vs. phillies will fuel the tampa bay vs. philly rivalry that has been going on in recent years. first, the bucs put out the eagles on their way to win the super bowl, then the lighting beat the flyers on their way to win the stanley cup, and if the rays beat the phillies to win their first world series title, philly will probably hate tampa bay like buffalo hates dallas.

Anonymous said...
Oct 15, 2008, 4:25:00 PM  

Disaster, really? A Brewers-Royals might be considered a disaster. Just looking at some numbers, Philly is 6th biggest baseball market, Tampa the 16th. Philly has the last 2 MVP's and the most prolific homerun hitter in the post-steriod era. Tampa is an up and coming team with young stars. Maybe they could come up with some story lines there.

Oct 15, 2008, 4:36:00 PM  

"Just looking at some numbers, Philly is 6th biggest baseball market, Tampa the 16th."

The NLCS is getting crushed this year, despite featuring Philly and the 2nd largest market in the country in LA.

Expect the World Series to finish below the NBA Finals in ratings for perhaps the first time ever.

Anonymous said...
Oct 15, 2008, 4:51:00 PM  

I hate how TV execs wait for the story lines to come to them. Like Splash is saying, there are plenty of stories there, FOX might just have to work a little to make it interesting. Execs need to quit waiting for the story to write itself.

Anonymous said...
Oct 15, 2008, 4:52:00 PM  

It's not a nice word to use these days, but the 2008 World Series may well be the biggest investment FOX and MLB will make in the next five years. A lot of signs point to a Tampa Bay talent assembly line coming to fruition, which will put them in the limelight consistently. The mix of speed and power has a great chance to capture new fans' imaginations ... as long as a BJ Upton game-winning bomb is seen live at a school-night hour.

If the networks can't generate new fans and viewers with this, then they are saying their product takes a back seat to chance and pre-existing conditions.

Hank said...
Oct 15, 2008, 4:57:00 PM  

I think the whole rating system is rigged anyway ... but really, if Philadelphia is the 4th or 6th largest metropolitan area, I'm sure there are more people watching than are being counted. The Phillies drew 3,000,000+ and have a large area between Baltimore, New York, and Pittsburgh to draw from ... The problem is that they don't have Hollywood bandwagoneers leading their cause.

The Phillies would be a bigger draw if MLB would get off their NY-love fest and actually promote other players. I'm so tired of hearing about A-Rod and the Steinbrenners - I'm glad Torre got this far - and the Amazin' Collapse that is the Mets.

New York will always be the bigger draw because casual fans go with front-runners. How many Mets fans were with them in the cellar? the Yankees? The fact that the Mets plan to charge $200 next year for an upper deck seat - we paid $70 this year, which was already outrageous - shows you they can draw from an obscene number of dunderheads who will pay just to be there ...

I hope the Phillies and the Rays excite the real baseball fans into organizing house parties of dozens of people - and that Nielson or whoever rates these things actually counts them. I'd love to shove a high-level rating right down the throats of these ratings guys - but that would be fine with them, too. How can we teach 'em without rewarding 'em?

Tim McCarver, Joe Buck, and the rest of the announcers need to be replaced ... now.

Anonymous said...
Oct 15, 2008, 5:02:00 PM  

i love these stories. obviously networks have an entirely business agenda for what might make the best television to promote (for advertisers), but it's as if teams in small markets - in this case baseball - should just give up and make sure they get out of the way for the big boys to generate big ratings. i see the dilemma for TV execs, but ultimately this is about sports and i could care less about TV execs and ratings and so on...

derby said...
Oct 15, 2008, 5:12:00 PM  

a) Joe Buck doesn't know anything but Manny Ramirez because he has too many jobs for FOX. He doesn't pay any attention to MLB beyond the big names. (I would give Joe Buck no jobs for FOX or anyone, but that's me.)

b) All the predictions of ratings doom actually help drive down the ratings, since they essentially tell people these games aren't worth watching.

Jim said...
Oct 15, 2008, 5:20:00 PM  

The thinking is that ANY World Series which doesn't involve Boston, a New York, or a California team is a rating disaster.

I wouldn't exactly consider an insult to the Ray and Phillies, they just happen to be opposing Boston and a California team this year.

Anonymous said...
Oct 15, 2008, 5:44:00 PM  

Not to pour gasoline on the fire, but World Series Game 3 goes up against Penn State-Ohio State on ABC. Casual viewers outside the Philly and Tampa Bay markets will prefer the Nittany Lions.

Anonymous said...
Oct 15, 2008, 5:46:00 PM  

to the guy that said philly is a big market, thats great but no one out side of philly cares about the phillies, the rays no one cares about them exept for the 30,000 bandwagoners that are gonna be at the game. with the yankees you get the whole country rooting for them to loose, the red sox the whole country knows about then especially the casual fans. ask 10 people to name 5 baseball teams, and 9 out of 10 start off with yankees, red sox, cubs, mets, dodgers.

Anonymous said...
Oct 15, 2008, 5:51:00 PM  

Well, I'm a Yankees fan, and I will still be watching a Rays-Phillies World Series.

Who knew that at the beginning of the season, Evan Longoria was in Durham, that Rocco Baldelli would come back from a major injury and play well, and little-known bench players like Ben Zobrist and Al Reyes would play a major part in the season.

Everyone picked the Rays last or second-to-last in their division, and look where they are now, one win from a World Series.

Joe said...
Oct 15, 2008, 6:51:00 PM  

What Anon @ 5:51 said said may be true, but Fox has the chance to weave a very intriguing Philadelphia story. Being from Philly, it's been over 100 combined seasons from the Phils, Eagles, Flyers, and Sixers since a championship. The Sixers in 83 were the last to do it.

The problem is, Fox doesn't want that story. They want the epic battle of Manny vs.the Sawx.

Personally, and obviously I'm a Philly fan so I do have a bias here, but the World Series that intrigues me the most is Phillies-Rays. Here are two teams that no one thought was going to be in the World Series. Face it, how many people had pretty much penciled in either the Mets or the Cubs in the AL and the Red Sox or the Yankees in the AL. But instead, you have the Phillies who always get written off by the sports media, and the Rays, who, well, before this year, were hardly even mentioned in the sports media.

Fox has a story here, if they choose to weave it, if the current LCS series hold true, of course. The Phillies, who are putting a whole desperate city on their backs vs. the Rays, a team that no one, NO ONE, thought would even be here. If you said in April the Rays would win the AL East, people would have scoffed. It's the Curse of William Penn vs. Perhaps one of the most surprising Pennant winners in baseball history.

History has shown that Philadelphia teams that have made it far in the playoffs in the past 25 years have had some interesting outcomes (i.e. McNabb puking, Lindros' concussion, the Phils' choke job in 93, etc). So for the casual fan, that could pull you in. How will Philly fail spectacularlly this time? Face it, pretty much the majority of people outside of Philly love seeing Philly teams fall flat on their face time and time again.

Fox won't take that story though. They want Sox-Dodgers. Joe Buck has already stuck his head so far up Ramirez's ass that his face is now buried in Manny's intestines.

There's a good chance that it will be the Rays and the Phillies playing in the Fall Classic. And if that happens, Fox's ratings will be down, they may lose some money, Joe Buck may cry, and I'll be loving every minute of it.

JFein said...
Oct 15, 2008, 7:06:00 PM  

Weirdest. Intro. Ever. The converstaion was shifted toward LA (no surprise) and McCarver even had to bend over to look at his notes at one point.

JFein said...
Oct 15, 2008, 8:21:00 PM  

yes eric karros. it's a must win for the phillies. not the dodgers..the team that's down 3-1.


haha...LA fans late arriving to the game. or they just won't show up.

Anonymous said...
Oct 15, 2008, 8:23:00 PM  

You're right Jfein. McCarver was struggling and Buck had an odd look on his face.

Anonymous said...
Oct 15, 2008, 8:45:00 PM  

If AA can get the video, it really confirmed everything we have said about Buck and McCarver. Dodgers bias + weird facial expressions + stumbling over their words + Tim McCarver glancing at notes = hilarity.

JFein said...
Oct 15, 2008, 10:27:00 PM  

Chris Myers just called the Rays, the Marlins. Wow...

JFein said...
Oct 15, 2008, 11:57:00 PM  

chris myers interview with shane victorino (sp) was great. AA should download it. Great line from shane telling Chris when Chris got champagne on his jacket "I know a great drycleaner in Philly"

Anonymous said...
Oct 16, 2008, 12:08:00 AM  

So many storylines... In addition to the ones already listed:

1. Brett Myers got sent down to DOUBLE-A midway through the season to get himself together, AFTER getting into a shouting match with his own manager. Now he looks like one of the best pitchers in the NL.

2. Brad Lidge hadn't been worth a damn since giving up the bomb to Pujols in what, 2005? Then he gets traded to Philly and he's the most dominant closer in baseball.

3. David Price was the #1 pick in last year's draft... And he's already on an MLB postseason roster. Just another great pick by the Rays.

4. Charlie Manuel's mom passed away last week, how's he dealing with it?

5. Grant Balfour yells at people while he's pitching... this guy's crazy!

6. The Rays won the East despite losing Longoria and Crawford for a month.

To me, the variety of stories with Rays-Phillies should be far more watchable than getting "Manny vs. the Sox" shoved down our throats repeatedly for 10 days.

Anonymous said...
Oct 16, 2008, 12:11:00 AM  

I guess Mr. Met had more money riding on the debate than the game. He's made a special appearance on fox news channel. Apparently he wasn't planing for the mets to be in action tonight either.

Anonymous said...
Oct 16, 2008, 12:17:00 AM  

half way there

Frank T. Tank said...
Oct 16, 2008, 12:47:00 AM  

First of all, why wouldn't L.A. fans be late to Games 4 and 5? They were played on workday and started at 5:20 pm local time. Yeah, that's convenient.

But I am baffled on why it matters what the TV ratings are going to be for any sporting event. Just watch it because you like the sport and enjoy the competition.

Anonymous said...
Oct 16, 2008, 2:47:00 AM  

I will personally watch a Rays-Phils match up but the 8:00 central start time is what kills me. I will watch it up to a point but certainly won't stay up too late for it.

Start these games at 7:00 eastern time so every one can enjoy, including kids.

Anonymous said...
Oct 16, 2008, 8:20:00 AM  

Joe Buck is atrocious. Completely unknowledgeable about the teams playing, save for Manny Ramirez.

And when the Phillies had 3 PM start times for Game 2 of the NLDS this year and Games 1 and 2 of the NLDS last year, the stadium was full because people took off work. So don't give me that horsecrap about LA fans having an excuse for being late. Just a bad, bad sports town.

PhilsPhan said...
Oct 16, 2008, 11:07:00 AM  

Hey JFein,

What exactly am I looking for in regards to this Buck-McCarver thing? I have it recorded but can't find the spot you're referring to.

Oct 16, 2008, 11:33:00 AM  

Another storyline re Tampa Bay-Philly rivalry: The Bucs beat the Eagles in the NFC Championship in Jan. 2003 in the final football game ever played at Veterans Stadium. The storyline was supposed to be the Eagles closing down their home since '71 with a trip to the Super Bowl. But the Bucs ruined it.

@Anon 10-15 5:46: "ask 10 people to name 5 baseball teams, and 9 out of 10 start off with yankees, red sox, cubs, mets, dodgers."

And that's the fault of MLB's marketing. If MLB, Fox and other networks want to avoid this "ratings" problem they need to increase the profiles and brands of the other 25 franchises as well. I'm sure there's a way to do it.

Anonymous said...
Oct 17, 2008, 4:10:00 PM  

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