Game 1 of baseball’s Fall Classic was soundly beaten in the Nielsen ratings Wednesday night by the NFL RedZone Channel which broadcast nothing but a screen saying the RedZone Channel would again be airing NFL football on Sunday starting at 1 p.m. ET.
The opener of the Red Sox-Cardinals series pulled in just more than 11 million viewers, but nearly 19 million Americans sat on their couches Wednesday night, mouths agape, waiting for sweet football to return to their screens.
“I greatly appreciate our fans’ dedication to our product,” said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. “The RedZone Channel has been a huge success and I am pleased that it has been able to maintain strong viewership even during the six days of the week in which it shows absolutely nothing but a static screen.”
The Nielsen report is just the latest bad sign for MLB ratings, which have seen a steady decline over the past 25 years. Games in the mid-80s pulled in viewership in upwards of 30 million per game, three times today’s audiences. The trend has prompted MLB to look for new ways to get its games in front of viewers. Starting in the 2014 playoffs, MLB umpires and broadcasters will be required to sing all of the utterances and the league will market games as a reality singing competition. Players will also be required to wear football helmets instead of baseball caps in hopes some viewers will be tricked into thinking they’re watching football.
Yet commissioner Bud Selig says TV ratings get too much attention and insists that baseball is as popular as ever.
“I still see TV as a new technology with a questionable future, so I don’t get too caught up in that,” he said. “All I care about is how our games are doing on the radio and if we get placement above the fold in all the major newspapers.”
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