NLCS Ratings Reach New Nadir!

Screamed the AP headline on Here is the rest of the story.

NEW YORK (AP) — The NL championship series opener between Colorado and Arizona was easily the least-watched LCS prime-time game ever. Colorado’s 5-1 victory over Arizona on Thursday night received a 3.6 national rating, TBS said Friday. The previous low for a prime-time LCS game was 4.9, set by Game 4 of the AL championship series between the Chicago White Sox and the Angels on Fox in 2005 and matched by Game 3 of the NLCS between St. Louis and the New York Mets on Fox last year.

I don’t usually do news stories around here, as Bob Timmermann does such a great job at the Griddle, but considering it makes my point even stronger…

Once again let me reiterate that the Rockies are a great story and deserve to be congratulated. Unfortunately when so few have interest, the story gets lost. This series could be as thrilling as the Yankees/D-backs World Series and so few would ever know. Let me repeat: The Rockies and D-Backs making the NLCS are not bad for baseball, but them playing each other in the NLCS is bad for baseball. My guess is the ratings will get even worse, with the Rockies seemingly on their way to the Series.

Now the Rockies versus the Red Sox is a wonderful David and Goliath match-up. As someone who loves the game and wants it to grow as a sport, I sure hope this is the match-up we get.



47 thoughts on “NLCS Ratings Reach New Nadir!

  1. 1.  As discussed the last time you brought this up, the media brought the low ratings on themselves. It’s a chicken-and-egg thing — no one knows about the Rockies and DBacks because they’re never on TV. They’re never on TV because no one knows about the Rockies and DBacks.

    If MLB insisted that TV covered the sport during the year, and not just a select few teams, this might not happen.

  2. 2.  Oddly though, when the Denver Broncos were winning Super Bowls, people would watch.

    And when the Arizona Cardinals were winning …

    (Spit take)

    OK, back to regular programming.

  3. 3.  2005 ALCS game four started at 7:15pm Eastern time on a Saturday and played on network television. 2006 NLCS game three started at 7:15pm Eastern time on a Saturday and played on network television. Last night’s game started at 10pm on a Friday, and played on a cable channel. If you want the least watched anything, that’s a pretty good place to put it.

  4. 4.  I think part of the problem is that all the national telecats employ broadcasters who shamelessly hype players who can’t possibly all peform to expectations in a three- or fou-game series and behave as if what they are watching is great, memorable baseball regardless of what’s on the field. One of the things that drew me in when I first started watching soccer three World Cups ago is the way the announcers wouldn’t pull any punches when one or both teams were playing badly. It made me felt like I was really learning the game. You can’t learn anything from watching Chip Caray or Joe Morgan.

  5. 5.  It’s not bad for baseball that the Rockies and Diamondbacks are playing in the NLCS. It’s not good, either. It’s just the way it played out. What is the supposed long term detriment that will come along with these two teams playing in the NLCS? It’s not bad for baseball, it’s bad for sheep who won’t watch it if other people aren’t.

    I couldn’t possibly care less what the ratings are for these games. I love baseball, and I am watching them (although I passed out in the 8th inning last night). I don’t get some added joy by knowing that there are 6 million people watching with me instead of 4. Who gives a crap?

  6. 6.  There are teams in baseball other than the Yankees, Mets, and Red Sox? From what the idiot box tells me, who knew?

  7. 7.  As you write, until this year, two games tied for the lowest LCS rating ever. The teams that played in those games were from Chicago, New York, St. Louis and Los Angeles/Orange County. Should I have concluded that big-city teams in the LCS was bad for baseball?

  8. 8.  The phrase “bad for baseball” is vague to me. It gets bandied about a lot, but what does it mean, exactly? I think I could understand it as a concept if baseball were a TV program on the verge of being cancelled, but baseball is not at all on the verge of being cancelled. Didn’t the major league attendance record get broken once again this season? It’s true that football has passed baseball as America’s biggest game, but so what? I mean, who fricken cares as long as we baseball fans are (barring some revelation that all major league baseball players are serial killers and always will be) pretty much guaranteed the joy of following the sport we love? And to me, it’s exciting that there is some “new blood” in the NLCS, especially in that it reinforces that there is good baseball being played outside the brightest media spotlight.

  9. 9.  Also, I would bet that TBS execs are jumping out of their skin with excitement over a 3.6. It’s all relative, and that beats the snot out of anything else they would have on the air. It’s cable, and TBS houses syndicated reruns.

    And for anyone irritated at all the Frank TV spots, just be glad that they aren’t shoving The Bill Engvall Show down our throats like they were in the regular season. I would never consider watching an episode of that show, but from the spots, it looked like maybe the least funny show in the history of the world.

  10. 10.  I didn’t list last night’s rating, as it did start at a late hour, so it would not be a fair comparison.

    I think it is great that new teams get their time on the national stage. If the rockies were playing the mets, cubs, or dodgers players like holiday would be getting a lot more much-deserved attention. This would help establish them in the national psyche. I might not like it, but most of the national media is New York or LA based.

    Most of my ‘bad for baseball’ rant comes from a d-backs bias. Phoenix is a bad sports town. They have already won a world championship. Their team is really fluky, as I don’t think it is great when a team makes it this far that has been outscored by their opponents, overall. I feel similarly about the Marlins, as recent teams with a shaky fanbase are not optimal in my opinion.

    I know I’m not gaining fans on this subject, but I guess I’ve never worried too much about being a non-believer in a sea of those with relgious fervor. This statement sounds a bit self-righteous. I am not so delusional that I don’t see where some of my arguments have holes in them, but to me it really gets back to sports being at their best when there is a hero and a villian.

    So far, 2007 has been overall a very uneventful playoff competition. Here’s hoping the red sox and rockies go 7 games.

  11. 11.  3 Hitting the nail on the head.
    Having watched both games last night The “Bad for Baseball” game was much more interesting and entertaining than the, presumably, “Good for Baseball” game.

  12. 12.  10
    I see what your point is. Sports loves to have a black hat facing a white hat as it were.

    The Yankees are the ultimate “black hat” in all of sports. I don’t even think the NFL has anything remotely approaching that. People don’t even hate the Patriots that much.

    Dramatic games would help a lot. The Rockies getting more than one extra base hit would help too.

    But here’s a question: Why did the 1975 World Series resonate so much? The Red Sox were not THE RED SOX then. The Reds had famous players, but they are from the middle of nowhere for a lot of people.

    But the games were great. They were presented well. People were interested. And there weren’t many other compelling things to watch on TV.

  13. 13.  10 – I feel like in this comment, your point takes a 90-degree turn. Now it’s no longer about the Rockies playing the Diamondbacks, it’s about a team playing for a title you don’t think it deserves. I’m not rooting for Arizona, either, but extrapolating that into “bad for baseball” continues to feel like a reach.

    And then right after you have demonized the Diamondbacks, you go on to say that the series lacks a villain.

    I don’t think this is an issue of you being a non-believer, Scott. It may be comfortable to basically say those who disagree with you are just too passionate to see the error of their ways, but I don’t think that’s what’s going on. Objectively, I just don’t think you’re making coherent arguments.

    Bottom line: As has been pointed out, baseball will not suffer from the Rockies-Diamondbacks matchup. The ratings this series gets are pretty much beside the point for the sport. Worst-case scenario: the next TV contract has fewer dollars, and the sport collectively has to adjust. (And yet, even that scenario is unlikely, as the rating the sport gets with this worst-possible matchup is still a competitive primetime rating, more than most series.) Should we really concerned about the consequences of this?

  14. 14.  But the games were great. They were presented well. People were interested. And there weren’t many other compelling things to watch on TV.

    everything aliened perfectly that day I guess Bob, the perfect storm if you will…

  15. 15.  In 1975 there were only three channels plus a UHF channel that consisted solely of Gilligan’s Island reruns. The media environment is a lot tougher now.

  16. 16.  The Colorado-Arizona Game One was also the first LCS game ever to be broadcast only on basic cable. That in and of itself should have guaranteed it a record low rating.

    The playoffs this year have been uneventful because the Yankees are the only losing team in any series to have won a game. The other series have all been sweeps thus far. That’s “bad for baseball,” but having exciting young teams like the Rockies and Diamondbacks and, by the way, the Indians and Phillies, is great for the sport as it showcases new star players on a national stage. In 2008 Matt Holliday, Troy Tulowitzki, Jeff Francis, Chris Young, Micah Owings, Fausto Carmona, Rafael Perez, even Grady Sizemore (who is not nearly as unknown or underrated as all the blowhards seem to insist) and others will be far more marketable based on their exposure this postseason, and creating and promoting new exciting star players is the most important thing any sport can do in terms of publicity and public relations.

  17. 17.  But still, the game is broadcasted on TBS, and the combination of the Chevy Ads and the FrankTV ads might be too much for some people. That and I’m sure there are some MLB fans that just don’t have cable TV. Sure even adjusting for that, the ratings are lower than White Sox vs Angels and Cards vs Mets, but so what.

    What would be good for baseball is if the ratings dropped so drastically that FOX tried to get out of their contract, and the playoffs were presented by good broadcasters.

  18. 18.  MLB promotes stars, tradition, and BS like “the Curse” or “Bartman”. So it’s bad for the business of baseball when the sport of baseball produces two teams that don’t fit their business model based on stars, tradition, and BS stories. One of the hazards of promoting your sport like it’s pop culture is pop culture is fickle. There is almost zero pop culture value in a Rockies v. Diamondbacks series and that’s what MLB has been serving up for years as a marketing plan.

  19. 19.  (Note this is written in a club on my sidekick)

    Let me begin by saying it is very lonely defending my convoluted postion. (Jon, I know I’ve been all over the place on this one)

    I am 100 percent sure that TBS is not happy they have the d+backs/rockies. For the money they paid, they were not expecting a matchup like this and the lack of igames isn’t good either. Because of the quick series there has been no intrigue, either. I know most here think my argument as this being bad for baseball is wrong, but these series have been bad for TBS.

    I’m not getting anywhere defending my position. I will concede that my argument has been all over the place, but I do know that a lot of people agree with me on the subject. Unfortunately they aren’t a lot of people that I like to align myself with, casual fans, sports talk show hosts, tv execs, so I do feel kind of lousy about my stance, but….. I still think 2 underdog, small market teams, with limited baseball traditon is not good.

    I don’t really connect with the reasoning of using the 1975 series, but then I’m whiffing with all commenters on my stance here so…

    By the way, can anyone think of any league championship series that didn’t have one future hall of famer that was on their active roster. Sure both the rockies and arizona have a lot of good young players, but the only guy that has decent odds is Helton and his home/away splits will make him a tough choice. Might be an interesting piece for Mike C or bob to explore.

    Oh and in regards to cliff, I want to say I continue my streak of never getting a positive comment from him. Congrats for your consistency in being in opposition to me. I do believe some day I will come up with somethung we can agree on. It consumes my thoughts.

  20. 20.  “one future hall of famer ”

    The best way to get to the HOF is to win the World Series. Let’s touch base at the end of the month.

    2003 Marlins

  21. 21.  I don’t understand why there is the need to evaluate the MLB playoffs as a TV show. Why would anyone who does not directly benefit from higher ratings care? With more people than ever coming to the ballpark and Major League teams awash in cash from the various new revenue streams that have sprung up in the last 10 years what possible difference does it make if the ratings are 3.6 or 5.9?

    As has been pointed out, since the previous lowest rated NLCS matchup was the tradition rich Cardinals and the NEW YORK CITY Mets there really is no way to guarantee high ratings. Ratings for all of television continue to go down because of the vast number of choices that are available and except for flukes that trend will continue unabated.

    NBC’s Sunday Night Football is considered a ratings blockbuster and has been the highest rated television show of the week in just about every week this year yet its national rating is just a little more than half of what MNF’s was in its heyday.

  22. 22.  I am an actual baseball fan, like the rest of us here. And if MLB continues to allow the networks to show playoff games that run past 1 AM, then they will keep getting shitty ratings. I try to stay awake but fall asleep watching the game. So if even a fan can’t stay up, why would a casual fan or noob stay up…or ever try?

    Shitty ratings are at least 50% the fault of the times the games are being shown, IMO.

  23. 23.  JGPyKE.

    This is another problem with this series, as the teams are in the Mountain and West coast time zones, so to give the franchises night games that don’t start at 5pm, the games are set to go on until after midnight on the east coast. It is better when there is a mix of one team being in the east/central time zone, so part of the series can be played at a decent hour for the majority of the US.

    There is very little discussion going on about the Rockies/D-backs series. This is my central point about why I don’t think it is good for baseball. If just one of the underdogs was in the series, it would bring more attention to that team. We will see that in the World Series, especially if they play against the Red Sox.

    The ratings are incredibly low, even if you take into account that they are on TBS and the second game started really late.

  24. 24.  So far, we have established:

    1. The series is bad for Scott Long.
    2. The series is bad for TBS revenues.

    I have yet to see established that there exists some value X such that

    Scott Long + TBS revenues + X = baseball.

  25. 25.  Here is a positive.

    Top 4 places that have emphasized how GREAT it is that the Rockies and D-Backs are in the NLCS.

    1. Colorado News Media
    2. Arizona News Media
    3. TBS studio crew
    4. The Juice Blog Comment section!

  26. 27.  If you are talking about guys who love baseball stats, comic books, star trek, and porn…it is the absolute best barometer.

  27. 28.  27 Hey don’t forget about lots of little kids…I’m expecting #4 on Tuesday.


    The Rockies get to be a better story with every win they post. If they win the world series w/o losing a game, that would be 25 out of 26. Wouldn’t that rank as one of the all time best achievements in baseball history??

  28. 29.  Best of luck on that Chris. More on the subject will come your way soon…

    The Rockies are an amazing story, but they are getting way less attention as they deserve. Beats me why that is. Really, I have got nothing on why that might be.

  29. 30.  I think I’ve figured out why you guys are so positive about this Rockies/D-backs series.

    You love watching double plays!

  30. 31.  Latest update on the story I’ve been covering. This comes from the New York Times in an article by Joe Lapointe.

    Although (Bob)DuPuy said ratings for the first round of playoffs were strong, he said the audience size for the first two games of the N.L.C.S. had not been as good.

    “So far, they have not measured up,” DuPuy said, adding that accurate figures would not be available until Monday.

    Part of the reason for low ratings, he said, was “these are two young teams the nation doesn’t know that much about yet.”

    He added, “We’re hoping if this were to be a long series, the ratings would grow with the story line.”

    DuPuy played down the idea that the games’ being broadcast on cable was an issue, saying that about “93 percent or 94 percent” of the nation had access to cable television.

  31. 32.  I do think the double play is the most aesthetically pleasing play in baseball.

    As for Hall of Famers, it’s way to early to rule out guys like Tulowitzki or Chris Young, or even Brandon Webb.

  32. 34.  My favorite play is the intentional walk.

    Randy Johnson is why I carefully worded it active roster.

  33. 35.  If we are playing the game of who might be a hall of famer that is/was on a world series team, let me say that I think the Marlins 2003 team will have a better chance of someone making the HOF than the 2007 Rockies.

    If you measure Carlos Delgado and Todd Helton, they are really difficult to say who is better.

    Helton’s splits are very Coors Field.
    Home 367
    Away 295

    Home 663
    Away 502

    Home 367
    Away 295

    Delgado splits are basically the same home and away.

    OBP 386
    SLG 549
    BA 280

    Helton is better defensively. Delgado has 431 homers so far, while Todd is at 303. Hits are close and they are similar in age, but Helton is aging more gracefully.

    Not sure if I think either one will deserve to be in the hall of fame, especially considering Palmiero won’t be let in. (yeah, I know why, but I will just allude to the idea that Wayne Hagen wasn;t absolutely full of crap.)

    On the subject of the 2003 Marlins, I would definitely take Miguel Cabrera in the HOF future pool over anyone who is playing for the D-backs or Rockies. Josh Beckett doesn’t look too badly, either.

  34. 36.  30 Scott, I don’t think we’re disagreeing with you because we “are so positive about this Rockies/D-backs series.” I think we’re disagreeing with you because the scope of your “bad for baseball” claim is far too wide.

    You make it sound like baseball is doomed–doomed! because of this matchup, when all it seems like to me is a small pothole in a vast continent of baseball revenues. It’s not a five-mile wide asteroid crashing into New York City.

  35. 37.  And as for the low ratings, if TBS didn’t include the odds of ending up with a double-small-market LCS when determining how much to bid for the broadcast rights, then that’s their own damn fault, and I don’t feel the slightest bit sorry for them.

  36. 38.  I didn’t think I was coming off like baseball was doomed, just that these playoffs have been a case so far of losing momentum. I have watched more of the Rockies/D-backs series than I’m guessing most readers at the Toaster have, since I stay up late.

    Having said this, I have been really underwhelmed with the quality of the games. Webb and Francis are excellent, but…Josh Fogg. Livan Hernandez. Micah Owings. Doug Davis. Not the type of pitchers I expect to be starting in a LCS. Add to this that the Rockies have 2 starting pitchers who have thrown 39 (Morales) and 89 (Jimenz) innings in their major league careers. I like both of them, but it just seems a little too soon, too fast for them.

    Here is a fun little thing I ran across when studying Francis. In the 7 inter-league games he has pitched over the past 2 seasons, he has been great in 5 of them. When facing the Red Sox and Yankees, during these 12 innings, he struck out 15 batters and gave up only one earned run. I know this is a ridiculously low sample size, but it does show the AL has had nothing on him so far.

  37. 39.  The reason I point out the ratings was to speak to how so few people are watching the games. I want more people to see them and I want there to be more discussion of the games, as I want to grow the game.

    On one hand, I read some here bitching about the games being on TBS, but then I also read that they think this type of series is great. If you want to have a better chance of getting all the games on network TV, the matchups need to be something they feel they can market. This series completely lacks that. My caring about the marketing and the networks comes from wanting MLB to grow in popularity.

    If you feel I’m giving you (the reader here) a headache, you have no idea how much I’m giving myself one.

  38. 40.  Hey, I don’t like Star Trek or comic books. Just wanted to show there are a few outliers in your demographic.

  39. 41.  read this and thought about your discussion.
    Source: Purple Row

    If you listen to some grumbling out East, you’ve probably been hearing a lot about how this NLCS is lame because the teams are so young, that they have no history, that they’re just too new to get behind. It’s true, but I sometimes wonder if fans were saying the same thing a hundred years ago about the Cubs and Tigers, where a Chicago team with a mid-twenties keystone tandem named Tinkers and Evers and a veteran first baseman named Frank Chance were repeating over a Detroit squad that featured a 20 year old phenom named Ty Cobb. It’s trite, but history can’t be written until after the games get played. It’s not always easy to see events for their historical significance when you’re in the middle of them.

  40. 42.  Scott, Delgado wasn’t a Marlin in 2003. Pudge Rodriguez was, though, and he is I guess a likely HOFer. Derrek Lee was there too, and he has some outside shot of getting there I suppose. The Rocks have Helton, with his career .332/.430/.583 line, and Holliday with his likely MVP this year, which I would say at least draws them even with Pudge/Lee.

    And generally, I really don’t get your insistence that anyone who doesn’t abhor this NLCS is a Kool-Aid drinker. We (grouping myself in with Jon, Cliff etc) like baseball but have no vested interest in its success. We’re enjoying the series and the whole Rockies thing. It’s as simple as that. If I didn’t like the series, I wouldn’t watch, and I wouldn’t pretend to like it. Like last year’s Cards/Tigers WS, which bored me to no end.

    If anything, you’re the one who is acting like a religious zealot, continuing to cover your ears and insist that you’re right and we’re all wrong. You might as well be the hobo standing outside Coors Field tonight wearing a sandwich board sign that says “The end is near.”

  41. 43.  There is only one way to validate the comment that “the series is ‘bad for baseball'”. That would be if you are using the term “baseball” found in the ESPN dictionary:

    Baseball…An athletic competition involving teams of players located east of the Rocky Mountains and predominantly in the Northeastern United States.

  42. 44.  Has anyone else had really bad reception with TBS for the series? Half the time my Dish can’t pick up the signal and the other half I never know it is just about to cut out. That gets real old, real fast.

  43. 45.  If Cabrera is already a future HOF, I have no problem with Brandon Webb being called a future HOF.

  44. 46.  Thanks for the correction, Elliot on Delgado. I really blanked on the Pudge part of the equation, which makes my argument way more solid. IRod is a first ballot hall of famer. Helton is questionable.

    In regards to Webb, he is 28 years old, with 65 wins. He has been great during his career, but unless he strings together 8 more seasons like the past 2, his late start will keep him out. Cabrera is only 24, has 138 homers, BA of .313, and an OPS of .930. And this wasn’t done in Coors Field. My guess is that any HOF prediction tool would have Cabrera way ahead of Webb.

    I am well aware that I’m pissing off people at a rapid pace here. Sometimes I take the role of contrarian to create more discussion. This is not the case on this one, as I truly believe what I’m saying, as wrong-headed as most commenters believe I am.

    Oh and if you hated my analysis, check out the playoff blog from Esquire Magazine.

    Note: Raab is one of the best feature piece writers on the planet. He also was my English Lit TA in college, a grad of the University of Iowa, and a big Indians fan (from Cleveland). He also was a douchebag for a TA.

  45. 47.  Let me begin by saying the Rockies are a great story. There is a magical sensibility to what is going on there…too bad so few are watching it.

    Latest on the coverage of the series that no one watched. This comes from the Baltimore Sun.

    With its matchup of small-market, tradition-poor teams, the National League Championship Series is setting TV ratings lows.

    The Colorado Rockies’ 11-inning, 3-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks in Game 2 on Friday night drew a 2.2 national rating, less than half of the lowest-ever prime-time league championship series rating before this season (4.9).

    Game 1 on Thursday night, when more viewers traditionally watch TV, had set the previous record low of 3.6.

    Ratings for Sunday night’s Game 3 will be available today.

    The American League Championship Series, boasting the large-market, tradition-rich Boston Red Sox, drew a 4.8 rating for their 10-3 victory in Game 1 over the Cleveland Indians on Friday night. That is also below the record low before this year.

    But ratings rebounded for Game 2, as the Indians’ 13-6 victory in 11 innings drew a 5.7.

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