For all the TV ratings wins Fox received this summer during the USWNT push toward the World Cup, it is receiving the short end of the stick when it comes to the ALCS vs. NLCS match-up. The ALCS on Fox pits the Toronto Blue Jays against the Kansas City Royals, two fine teams located in smaller markets. The NLCS is Mets vs. Cubs. Let that sink in. Turner owns broadcast rights to a series that features two major markets in New York and Chicago. The Cubs/Mets have a love-able underdog reputation and both teams are stacked with young talent. We haven’t even addressed the additional programming and coverage which is an embarrassment of riches for Turner — Cubs fans not seeing a World Series since 1908, Bartman, Back to the Future references, Mets resurgence and Doc Gooden/Darryl Strawberry flash backs –while Fox has . . . Jose Bautista’s bat flip?
By the way, this was sheer luck for Turner because ALCS/NLCS broadcast rights flip every year. Turner receives NLCS broadcast rights on odd years — ALCS even years — and Fox receives the opposite. It’s just chance that Turner received such an amazing match-up.
NLDS ratings were expected to outpace ALDS ratings, and they definitely did that. A lot of that had to do with time-slots as the ALDS games were televised much earlier — and in some cases during the workday — but the timing won’t be an issue going into the championship series. Still, expect much of the focus, media coverage, and ratings returns to be NLCS-centric. Sometimes winners are decided by luck, and Turner is thanking the baseball gods that the Cubs vs. Mets series is happening on an odd year.
Michael Colangelo is Managing Editor of The Fields of Green and Assistant Director at the USC Sports Business Institute.