Where have all the viewers gone who love baseball. That’s the subject of a sports section cover story in USA Today and also published in other Gannett Newspapers, such as the Tucson Citizen.
According to the article, by Bob Nightengale, "Heart-thumping drama. Historic performances. Epic meltdowns. Strategic maneuvers and misfires. Dropped phone calls. Rally squirrels, antlers and sitting ducks. You name the element, and the World Series between the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals has it."
However, Nightengale adds, "Yet outside the city confines of St. Louis and the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, there has been precious little interest. None of Fox’s broadcasts has drawn better than a 9.2 rating, the second lowest since the Nielsen ratings started tracking the Series in 1984. ‘These aren’t the biggest markets in the league,’ said Cardinals third baseman David Freese, who grew up near St. Louis, ‘but I can tell you one thing, people are missing out. I don’t understand it.’
One person who doesn’t particularly seem concerned about the relative lack of viewers for this year’s World Series is baseball commissioner Bud Selig. According to the story, Selig says, "Let me tell you, the people who count are the ones who are bidding for the rights. And we’ve never had so much competition for our next postseason television contract." Networks would likely start bidding on that contract next year. Fox’s current contract expires in 2013, the article says.
Selig continues, the article notes, "Yes, I’ve talked a lot about postseason ratings, and I understand the concern. But I’m satisfied with where we are. When we get into a sixth and seventh game of the World Series, I think you’ll see the ratings increase.”
In a wonderfully colorful companion article Gannett columnist Mike Lopresti has fun telling us what’s making this year’s World Series so endearing.