Fox’s New Hits Open Baseball Inventory

Sep 26, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Fox’s strong prime-time batting average in late August and September has given the network more commercials to sell in the upcoming baseball playoffs and World Series.

In recent years many of Fox’s early season shows have struck out and advertisers were given make-good spots during baseball. The network’s strategy of starting its fall shows early is working, so make-goods are not a problem this year.

“Overall, I think the network is in better shape,” said Larry Novenstern, senior VP and director of national buying at Deutsch.

The extra spots have helped keep price increases reasonable, ad buyers said. Commercial time is going for $150,000 for 30-second spots during the first five games of the league championship series and $325,000 for the first five games of the World Series, up about 5 percent from last year.

“We’re pacing well ahead of last year for the games that will definitely be played,” a Fox spokesman said.

Advertising time in the first five games of the World Series is nearly sold out. The later games, played only if necessary in the best-of-seven series, are sold separately.

With several tight pennant races coming down to the end of the season, Fox is likely rooting for the New York Yankees to make the postseason. The network would likely also be glad to see last year’s darlings, the Boston Red Sox, return and maybe the Chicago White Sox, another major-market team.

“The Yankees are one of those teams that can buoy a national rating,” said Sam Sussman, VP and media director at Starcom.

Some advertisers may try to see what the matchups are before buying ad time. “It depends on the client’s objective,” Mr. Sussman said. Some can’t risk being shut out of the playoffs and the World Series, but “if you have the flexibility, you can wait it out,” he said.

So far this season, baseball on Fox has drawn an average 2.5 household rating, down from 2.6 last season. However, the last regular-season broadcast on Fox will be the Yankees-Red Sox game Saturday, Oct. 1, with a playoff spot potentially on the line, and that could boost the final numbers above last year’s.

The Yankees and Red Sox play their final game of the season Oct. 2. It will be broadcast on the YES Network in the New York area and nationally on Major League Baseball TV.