This year's ratings for MLB on Fox have been disappointing, to say the least. Eight of the eleven broadcasts this year are down from 2012, A hot postseason from the NHL has seen MLB lose in total viewership for five straight weeks head to head with hockey. So, what's the deal?
First, I want to rule out the usual excuses chirped about by people of "the announcing is so awful!" and "baseball is soooooo boring!". It's not as if baseball has suddenly turned into the world chess championships, and Joe Buck and Tim McCarver aren't the new kids on the block that people are just realizing are bad commentators. While people love to cite those above reasons, neither is really valid at the end of the day.
The schedule, quite frankly, has been awful. Four of the weeks this season have prominently featured the Angels, who stink. The Yankees have been primarily involved in three games, and while they're still the Yankees, they lack the star power they've had in previous years and local ratings on YES are in the can. The Tigers have also been the featured attraction in three games, and while they're a great team, they don't move the ratings needle too much.
Fox doesn't seem to know what the issues are either. Senior VP Mike Mulvihill reportedly said their schedule for the season was backloaded, which seems a bit odd to say considering the marquee matchups the network has put forth already this year. Over the next three weekends leading into the MLB All-Star Game (also on Fox, and primed for another ratings disaster), the top matchups include Yankees-Orioles, Reds-Rangers, Braves-Phillies, Dodgers-Giants, Cardinals-Cubs, and Rangers-Tigers. The only one of those that looks like it would really pique the interest of the casual fan is the traditional Dodgers-Giants rivalry, but with Los Angeles languishing in last place in the NL West, I'm not sure that it's going to go too well for Fox.
And right now, that's where we are. After being a smash hit last season, the primetime telecasts have been a disappointment this season. These next three weekends are big for MLB, because they're the only game in town now with the NBA Finals and Stanley Cup Finals both wrapped up. If the ratings continue to disappoint, perhaps the move to Fox Sports 1 will come as a relief to Fox executives going forward. With the NASCAR on Fox season completed and just one UFC show on the Fox broadcast channel this summer, all of Fox Sports' eggs are in the MLB basket until the NFL comes back. If the ratings continue to slag, Fox's renewal of their MLB deal could look like a sunk cost heading into the transition to Fox Sports 1.
In the last few years a lot of things have changed, mainly for the negative. The fact San Jose is still waiting for the A's still puzzles all those with any amount of logic and sense.
I became tired of the greater emphasis on individual statistics as opposed to overall performance of the teams. The DH should have been universal by now and I could even advocate a geographical realignment of all the teams, see more at http://realignthebigleagues.wordpress.com .
I usually watch baseball on the local RSNs, but that is lower in priority to both the NBA and NHL when both are entering the playoffs in late April through June. Concerning Fox Saturday Baseball, the blackouts remain for those who still subscribe to MLB Extra Innings plus Joe Buck is still in the booth after all these years. I am the least bit surprised people are tuning out MLB on Fox because of those two reasons among countless others.
I'll be honest, in the last few years I have been watching more International Soccer than baseball and frankly, there is more strategy in one match than you would see in one year's worth of NL baseball.
This might not have anything to do with it but one thing I found kind of irritating is that what's up with the announce crews? I mean does FOX even have them anymore? I think FOX needs a baseball overhaul.
They have no pregame show thats there own. There piggy backing off of MLB Network.
Besides the polarizing Joe Buck and Tim McCarver, who are FOX's baseball announcers. They seem to get local guys for the coverage but to me all FOX is doing is borrowing from local announcers. There local announcers not FOX announcers
And finally, the music. MLB on FOX theme was a great theme. Why change it to the FOX NFL theme, I'll never know. Everytime I hear the nfl theme, I think of football, not baseball.
The choice of games every weekend isn't helping. Not everyone wants to see Yankees and Red Sox every Saturday night.
FOX does have a early round USA Gold Cup game and the Final scheduled to air on the network. If the US can get to the 2nd weekend of that tournament FOX will air that game too. I just wanted to point out all of FOX has some futbol this July airing on the network level.
The biggest culprit is uninteresting match-ups, but I also think it's because of FOX's idiotic scheduling ways. In the state of Texas, you should always get the Rangers or the Astros if they are on the Fox Game of the Week. Yet 2 weeks ago, Fox forced everyone not in Houston to choose between Angels/ Yankees or not watch a game at all, despite the Astros/ Royals being on at the same time. Fox typically ignores the actual regional zones that MLB has, and when you do so, your ratings will continue to tank because people don't care for the teams you are putting on.
Some good points here, but the fact is that none of the big market teams in LA, NY or Chicago are dominant. I'd be interested to see what ESPN's Sunday Night ratings are, too. They've had a lot of clunkers with the same teams FOX shows.
Until FOX can go to a "flex schedule," they're going to keep ramming the same matchups down our throats, regardless of where they are in the standings.
Installing the NFL theme music for baseball didn't help. Still don't understand that move and I can't imagine baseball being happy one of their television partners decided to switch to the theme music of football. Talk about a slap in the face.
Its because of the increase in RSN telecasts. Just ten years ago, many teams had 1/4 to 1/2 of their games untelevised. Now, most teams have every game televised, the popularity of baseball at the regional level has increased so much that the national telecasts are irrelevant out of market. Besides, the ESPN Sunday Night game has been considered the true 'natinoal' game of the week for several years. There's also a ton of sports alternatives, with all the various sports networks.
FOX has been as terrible for MLB as it has been good for the NFL. I probably watch 200+ games over the course of a season, but on FOX only when I'm forced to. Their broadcasts are utterly impossible to stomach.
I agree with everyone here. I just think a lot of analysis needs to be engaged in the baseball networking world. I agree with backing the games to afternoons, with the exception of perhaps with ESPN covering Sunday Night Baseball, etc. I enjoy one night game a week, but yes, not enough teams get loved on coverage.
I think it's a number of factors that have been brewing for years. One of them is Tim McCarver. He is one of the worst analysts in sports, not to mention annoying, and anybody who knows baseball can pick apart his analysis right away. But he's such a buzzkill nobody has bothered to turn him into a drinking game. Fox also insulted baseball fans' intelligence by foisting Jeanne Zelasko on us for so many years. Those and some other factors have been turning baseball fans off Fox coverage for a long time. Frankly, my take is that Fox treats MLB as something as a chore they must do instead of something they love.
Baseball is a regional sport. Fans love the home team but don't care about the national games. Not to mention, Fox's baseball presentation is stale and needs to be freshened up. Interesting points on here I agree with--the night game is dumb, and yes Yankees-Red Sox is played out.
Moving the games to 7 PM in the east was a big mistake. The games are up against too many other events, on and off the tube. Move the games back to 4 PM ET and I'll bet ratings improve.
Sorry, but it's a struggle to get through a nine inning game. I love baseball, but even I can't watch a lot of it on TV.
@Giantsfan1982 Really? So who does Justin Kutcher call games for? Who does Tom Verducci call games for? How about Kenny Albert? Last week Matt Vasgersian was calling a game. Neither Eric Karros nor Mitch Williams are signed up with a specific team. In fact Thom Brennaman, who is technically a FOX announcer 1st and a Reds announcer second, is the only one who does double duty on a regular basis.
The only analyst they've used this season that isn't technically a Fox Sports employee was F.P. Santangelo. Both Bob Brenly and Rex Hudler are technically Fox Sports employees, but it should be noted that they haven't had an analyst from a local network call more than 2 games this year within the first 3 months. Fox has plenty of actual announcers that they do use regularly. They just have a shortage of analysts, and they tend to use the ones that have called games nationally before over the ones that have always been local market.
As far as the pregame goes, Fox isn't piggybacking off of anyone. Fox discontinued the pregame because of low ratings. It was MLB Network that sought permission to do a pregame show, and Fox agreed as long as they didn't fund the cost. Why the separation? Because the pregame failed for FOX, and as the ratings show this year, it certainly hasn't helped them out to date. Why would you want them to spend money and produce something that has failed basically from the get go?
Now to address the music, I'll admit that I hate the move, even if it was 2 years ago, but I understand the reasoning behind it. They want people to recognize when Fox Sports is coming on by using one tune. This is no different than NBC has done for scoring updates the entire time. Whenever new updates start, they have the NBC ring go off.
To date the music has only applied to actual Fox Sports (please note that the games broadcast on FX were technically Fox Colllege Football on FX & Fox Soccer on FX and weren't classified as their own sports brand), though I'm sure Fox Sports 1 will be under the same ruling. I have slowly gotten used to it, though I would prefer them going back to the MLB tune that was used at the start. At least they're letting FSN use the tunes and not forcing them to go to the Fox Sports main theme the entire time.