Ratings are once again down for the MLB playoffs. There are many ways to spin the various stats or attribute them to specific variables like weather, scheduling, and match ups, but the fact is that it's a gloomy start of October on the ratings front.
"The audience has dropped significantly over the first four days of the 2011 postseason for Turner Sports. Through 10 telecasts on TBS and TNT, ratings declined 28% to a 2.1 from a 2.8 average in 2010, while viewership decreased 25% to 3.32 million from 4.45 million, according to Nielsen."
Monday night's head to head showdown between ESPN's MNF and TBS's Yankees and Tigers game three served as a telling exhibit of ESPN's gravitational pull away from other competitive programming. Per TV By The Numbers, MNF squashed the playoff game by a comfortable 2-1 margin in the 18-49 demographic.
Let's think about this for just a second. A pivotal playoff game featuring two great television markets and star pitchers that was close throughout up against one of the worst Monday night draws this season. Furthermore, the MNF game featured a winless team, two modest sized television markets, and very little national appeal. It won out by a huge margin.
There are many ways to frame the television matchup. Football vs. baseball, fantasy sports and gambling vs. playoff drama, and of course TBS vs ESPN.
For the sake of discussion, let's say you flip the games and MNF for that one night is on TBS and Tigers/Yankees is on ESPN, how would those ratings be affected?
I'll venture a guess that MNF is somewhere near a four rating and Game 3 potentially moves up to a three rating. Maybe that is overstated, but for the last week or so it's been eye opening how viewers migrate to ESPN by habit. Below is a recap of examples of this type of gravitational pull...