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Rays/Phillies World Series Proves National Broadcasters Need Less of the Red Sox and Yankees PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Sunday, 19 October 2008 23:51

World Series LogoSo, the Tampa Bay Rays have gone worst to first and will meet the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 1 of the World Series on Weds. at Tropicana Field.

Congrats, St. Pete and Philly, you deserve it.

But, as opined last week, it should be the lowest rated World Series in history.

More than a few have said, “So what? Ratings don’t mean a thing.”

I’m here to say, it means a whole lot.

The low ratings we’re about to embark on have nothing to do with bad teams, or some Series prone to be a  lopsided affair. On the contrary, it may be one of the best match-ups in recent history.

So why, oh why, will the ratings be low? Blame broadcasters, for one.

Low ratings show, in part, that when you spend week after week, year after year showing the Red Sox and the Yankees during the regular season, you brainwash the average fan. If you want to make October something special, no matter who is playing, you better get America to follow all 30 teams.

This requires doing a bit of detox on FOX, ESPN, and TBS' part. Understandably, you have America hooked on the Red Sox and Yankees, and with that you get your precious regular season ratings. The problem is, if one or the other team isn’t in the World Series and ratings are low, there’s a mountain of articles talking about how it’s a matter of being a “poor Series.”

That’s a load of manure.

Many will point to the NFL and say, if they can get small markets to draw for the Super Bowl, why can’t the same be done for the World Series? Well, because it’s the Super Bowl. An event. One game for all the marbles. MLB doesn’t get to leverage the “event” atmosphere. They live or die on market size, brand recognition, and regional alignment by the two teams. You get very little of that with a Rays/Phillies World Series.

For one, both clubs are situated on the East Coast, making national interest low. Ask yourself how often Joe and Jane Average fan on the West Coast is able to watch either of those teams during the regular season.

As far as brand recognition, well… there’s almost zero of Tampa Bay, and the Phillies haven’t pulled in a steady stream of postseason runs, as well.

Philly’s a large market, and Tampa/St. Pete is not small, but it’s just not going to have the same draw as a New York, LA, or Boston team being in the World Series.

So, I say, the low ratings do mean something. It means that broadcasters will decide that, in the end, they will get on bended knee and pray for the Red Sox, Yankees, Mets, Dodgers, Angels or Cubs to make the World Series, and hope that they drew high ratings during the regular season.

Too bad that wasn’t the case this year.

Or, they’ll wean America off their addiction to Red Sox and Yankees games and get the country interested in baseball. After all, there are 30 teams, not just 2.

That’s why ratings matter. It’s a way to gauge America’s interest in baseball, not just a handful of teams. If the ratings were to be high for a Rays/Phillies World Series, then you’d have to say, all of baseball was popular from top to bottom in small towns and big cities coast to coast. Let’s hope that we can get there shortly… with a little help from national television broadcasters, mind you.

Maury Brown

Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer.

Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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