Folks are going to complain about the World Series ratings as soon as they start trickling in. They’re really going to complain when the Rams-Cowboys game on Sunday doubles the ratings of the Cardinals-Rangers game just around the corner later that evening. We know that by now.
But as Variety’s (and Dodgers Thoughts’) Jon Weisman reports, Fox is quite pleased, thank you very much, with the state of the ratings and their investment.
Ads sold out earlier than ever, Fox Sports’ vice-chairman Ed Goren said. And the ratings, while certainly not what they used to be, aren’t bad when you compare baseball to itself and other programming in this increasingly fragmented media landscape as opposed to simply comparing it to the ratings behemoth that is the NFL:
“First off, the World Series last year, we won primetime for the week. Even last year’s World Series … in 1971, there was a Pirates-Orioles World Series, and it was the eighth highest-rated show of the year. Last year’s World Series was the eighth-highest rated show of the year also. In this 500-channel universe, the numbers that the World Series pulls in viewership are substantial year after year. Some years are better than others — the more games you get, the better you’ll be — but it is still a major, major ratings attraction.”
Baseball TV rights will be up for bidding again after the 2012 season. I’m guessing Fox, and other outlets, will be involved in the bidding. All of these are companies, it should be noted, that aren’t in the business of burning cash for the hell of it.
Veteran hurler Jake Peavy has not signed with a team. It’s not because he’s not still capable of being a useful pitcher — he’s well-regarded and someone would likely take a late-career chance on him — and it’s not because he no longer wishes to play. Rather, it’s because a bunch of bad things have happened in his personal life lately.
As Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reports, last year Peavy lost millions in an investment scam and spent much of the 2016 season distracted, dealing with investigations and depositions and all of the awfulness that accompanied it. Then, when the season ended, Peavy went home and was greeted with divorce papers. He has spent the offseason trying to find a new normal for himself and for his four sons.
Pitching is taking a backseat now, but Peavy plans to pitch again. Here’s hoping that things get sorted to the point where he can carry through with those plans.
This is fun: The San Francisco Giants recently made their last payment on the $170 million, 20-year loan they obtained to finance the construction of AT&T Park. The joint is now officially paid for.
The Giants, unlike most other teams which moved into new stadiums in the past 25 years or so, did not rely on direct public financing. They tried to get it for years, of course, but when the voters, the city of San Francisco and the State of California said no, they decided to pay for it themselves. They ended up with one of baseball’s best-loved and most beautiful parks and, contrary to what the owners who desperately seek public funds will have you believe, they were not harmed competitively speaking. Indeed, rumor has it that they have won three World Series, four pennants and have made the playoffs seven times since moving into the place in 2000. They sell out routinely now too and the Giants are one of the richest teams in the sport.
Now, to be clear, the Giants are not — contrary to what some people will tell you — some Randian example of self-reliance. They did not receive direct public money to build the park, but they did get a lot of breaks. The park sits on city-owned property in what has become some of the most valuable real estate in the country. If the city had held on to that land and realized its appreciation, they could flip it to developers for far more than the revenue generated by baseball. Or, heaven forfend, use it for some other public good. The Giants likewise received some heavy tax abatements, got some extraordinarily beneficial infrastructure upgrades and require some heavy city services to operate their business. All sports stadiums, even the ones privately constructed, represent tradeoffs for the public.
Still, AT&T Park represents a better model than most sports facilities do. I mean, ask how St. Louis feels about still paying for the place the Rams used to call home before taking off for California. Ask how taxpayers in Atlanta and Arlington, Texas feel about paying for their second stadium in roughly the same time the Giants have paid off their first.