Fox Selling Out on World Series Ad Spots

Oct 21, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Fox has sold out its advertising inventory for the first four games of the World Series and, with the contest set to start Wednesday, spots in games five, six and seven are getting scarce.
With pricing pacing ahead of last year’s World Series by 10 percent at $400,000 per 30 seconds, the company has announced that only a few units are left for games five, six and seven, even before it’s decided which American League team will play the National League champs, the Colorado Rockies, in the Major League Baseball championship.
“Sponsors normally don’t buy games six or seven this early because there are so many factors yet to be decided,” said Ed Goren, president of Fox Sports. “But this year, sales have been so robust, and the marketplace has been hot, so our sales group is feeling very positive right now that there are so few spots left.”
Fox and TBS are finishing the first year of a seven-year deal with MLB worth $3 billion. Fox, which has had exclusive rights to the World Series since 2000, now holds those rights through 2013.
Fox Sports will enter the World Series on a roll. Through the first four games, the 2007 American League Championship Series between the Cleveland Indians and the Boston Red Sox, programming is pacing 15 percent ahead of last year’s rating (6.2 rating/11 share vs. 5.4/10 in 2006). The ratings are up by 21 percent over last year’s average audience (9.5 million viewers vs. 7.9). Ratings have grown with each game this year, marking the first time Fox has seen that happen since it began airing the ALCS.
The lack of a mega-market team in contention has generated concern that the series won’t attract as many viewers as the league, and Fox, would like. With the small-market Colorado Rockies taking the NL spot and Cleveland holding the edge in the AL series, ratings may take a nosedive. Critics also voiced displeasure that the late start time of the games hurts audience ratings. Mr. Goren, however, dismisses both those arguments.
“Every World Series game, even the ones considered low rated, perform very well in the overall landscape of prime-time television,” Mr. Goren said. “In addition, in three of the four nights of the ALCS, Fox won the 18-49 demo, which is pretty impressive. We’re looking forward to the World Series, no matter who is playing.”
Part of that anticipation comes from the fact that the network’s entire lineup benefits from the baseball ratings boost, as well as the platform the series gives Fox to promote new programming, he said.
Fox is moving to mitigate any potential problems associated with having a small-market team by using the ALCS telecasts to introduce viewers to the relatively unknown Colorado Rockies.
“As long as the ALCS goes on, we’re going to do something in pre-games to start spreading the news because they are really a terrific story,” he said of the segments, which began last Thursday.
The late start time for games, he said, isn’t a problem, noting that ratings for the ALCS after 11:15 p.m. EST were higher than those at the start of the game.
“Honestly, television executives aren’t the brightest people in the world,” Mr. Goren said. “But even we know that if anyone thought that we would be able to make the same money from our advertisers by broadcasting earlier and paying lower fees to Major League Baseball, we would.”
New to this year’s broadcast will be a Wednesday night start for the World Series, which typically begins on a weekend. That move could push the final game into November should the contest roll into seven games. That happened only once before, in 2001, when the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, delayed the season.
Mr. Goren said Fox will benefit from the new schedule, which will give its sales team an extra day to close out any unused ad inventory on the final games of the event.
Fox’s World Series pre-game broadcasting roster is set with announcers and analysts including Kevin Kennedy and Eric Karros, along with Mark Grace and Joe Girardi.


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