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Red Sox-Dodgers World Series TV Ratings predictably down

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Per Nielsen, television ratings for the Red Sox-Dodges five-game series dropped 25% compared to last year’s Astros-Dodgers telecasts.

As expected most people didn’t want to tune into what was in many ways a boring World Series. Not great pitching or scoring.  A seven and a half hour Game 3 lasting until 3:30 a.m. on the east coast was exciting for those who could stay awake.  It also became apparent after Game 4 that the Red Sox were the vastly superior team.

Still Major League Baseball managed to average 14 million viewers, according to Nielsen, and that’s not bad. The NHL which doesn’t bring in big numbers here in the states averaged 6 million viewers by comparison for it’s Stanley Cup final in 2018.

Boston was the juggernaut, the Dodgers need better bullpen help, besides second guessing a few of Dodgers manager Dave Roberts’ decisions, the whole affair lacked compelling story lines.

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The Sunday Night Baseball booth might be the most interesting place in sports right now

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Matt Vasgersian is not a man of the people exactly, he is not universally loved to the degree of many of baseball’s national broadcasters of years past, Joe Buck, Vin Scully, but he doesn’t have legions of detractors as some would argue Joe Buck might (although it seems like more and more people love Buck these days).

Vasgersian is not on social media. He doesn’t not have a burner account. He scoffs at fellow broadcasters who check their Twitter account during commercial breaks.

Vasgersian’s path to the Sunday Night Baseball booth was not paved with gold and a long history at the mothership. He did the dirty work at the minor league levels then as the television voice of the Milwaukee Brewers from 1997-2001.  He came into the national baseball conscientiousness in 2009 with the MLB Network as a studio host.

For many that’s a welcome sight, a true baseball guy calling a baseball game. But Vasgersian is not going to be the fun broadcaster who you might have wondered if he put back a few during the commercial break, a la Harry Caray.

As the play-by-play announcer for Sunday Night Baseball his focus is on the mechanics of broadcasting and also the game of baseball. In a recent podcast with the Sports Business Journal, he says he’s aware of the criticism but realizes that it’s going to take time for the production and the three persons behind the mic to “vibe”.

In 2018, and for a few years now, networks and media people get some sort of instant feedback on performance of any kind, talk shows, music shows, and live sports, it’s called Twitter. Everyone is a media critic, including your’s truly the writer of this article.

It’s very hard to find the bias effect on social media, all that comes across are retweets and likes. If a Tweet explode that the new Sunday Night Baseball booth stinks, bring back Dan Schulman, and gets 3,000 likes, is that representative of the 1.2 million of viewers who tuned in.

Twitter is not a focus group. It’s not a controlled science experiment. It’s just a giant chat room and people say maybe the worst thing that comes to their mind whether they believe it or not and their own bias comes out.

That is to say people aren’t in love with Matt Vasgersian. The masses who are not regular MLB on FOX game of the week or MLB network will not really know him or pay attention to him. And that’s probably the way he intends for it now that he’s in the ESPN Sunday Night Baseball booth with Jessica Mendoza and Alex Rodriguez.

Sunday Night Baseball is America’s Game of the Week. Not Saturday afternoon, people are busy. Not Monday night, people don’t care. Sunday night in the summer is for baseball on ESPN and it’s a very important spot for the network and the sport.

Ratings wise, Sunday Night Baseball didn’t tank it but didn’t blow anyone out of the water. Ratings aren’t the most important thing thus far on Sunday Night. It’s about sustaining the product for the network and Major League Baseball.

On the first broadcast April 1st, true chemistry may have been lacking. Alex Rodriguez attempted to guess pitches, and Mendoza and Vasgersian told the viewer what was actually thrown. 

Some might argue that either of the two personalities Rodriguez or Mendoza might be better suited for a two-person booth, but they are not.

And there are a lot of Twitter people now days who have vocal following who pay way more attention to the broadcasters than the game, which simply is not the case for the average viewer.

Sunday Night Baseball is fun for baseball people. But for some reason the target is on the backs of Vasgersian, Rodriguez and Mendoza.

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Dick Enberg was happy to be there

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“The one part of me that I think always comes through is I am a fan,” Hall of Fame broadcaster Dick Enberg once said.

“I really do get excited.”

Perhaps no one ever turned the channel to NBC, or CBS just to listen to Dick Enberg call a football game, a basketball game, a tennis match or to hear an essay about a golf tournament.

But many didn’t change the channel after listening to Enberg’s eloquence.

For many Dick Enberg was NBC, but all in all, he was a bit player happy to be there just to call the game, and not the star of the show a Costas a Howard Cosell. Costas perhaps didn’t do that intentionally, Cosell we know of course thought and had to be the star of the show. Jim Nantz from a top is the star of the show but still has some Dick Enberg in him.

Like Nantz, Enberg had staying power that is so subtle yet unique from a different generation of broadcasters from that golden-post war-60’s, middle-age by the 70’s and 80’s with the grand fatherly feel through much of the 90s and 2000’s.

Edberg spent 25 years at NBC sports and 12 years at CBS sports.

Enberg was still calling baseball games as of 2016, having called his last San Diego Padre game in September of 2016 as a member of the TV booth.

He was there for Wooden’s dynasty, well most of it, nine years and eight titles he was the voice of UCLA basketball.

He also was the radio and TV voice for the California Angels and Los Angeles Rams.

“He doesn’t have a big ego,” one NBC producer lamented about him in 2000.

And essentially that is how Dick Enberg endeared himself to millions of viewers.

Enberg of course was talented but his ego didn’t come blaring through the broadcast.

“I’ve always enjoyed the role of being a complementary player, ” Enberg said at the time as he was asked about his role when he joined CBS and would be in the background so to speak as he was placed into it’s golf coverage.

“The game is the thing. I’m always appalled at some announcers who think that people tune in to see them and not the event.”

Enberg is also from a generation of broadcaster’s who’s fans and audience remember him from entirely different eras.

Some remember him as the UCLA broadcaster, and the California Angels.

Under 35 years of age you might will remember him as the NBC broadcaster, perhaps on the NFL or NBA circuit. Some younger will remember his late contributions on CBS with Golf and Tennis and College Basketball, and yet others his final run through as the San Diego Padres TV guy in the later years of his life.

Still others may remember his days at the California Angels television guy.

“I can only do the best I can. I’m proud of my profession and I love what I do,” Enberg explained.

“Personal recognition is something I don’t take lightly, but I also don’t take it so seriously that my ego needs to be fed. The game is still the thing…”

A lot of course will remember his signature phrase, “Oh my”,  and although early on it may have come naturally, it then became his catch phrase. And as catch phrases go it was pretty tame and mostly enjoyed by viewers.

And “Oh My” Dick Enberg we enjoyed you.

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Tony Romo is a hit for CBS

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—Much like the peeks and valleys of his NFL career, we were not entirely sure what we would get with Tony Romo on TV.

But people tend to like what he brought to Sunday’s game as the lead analyst teamed with Jim Nantz on CBS’ No. 1 NFL team for Sunday’s Titans-Raiders game.

Romo had the freshness of someone who had just completed a 14-year playing career or as a mastermind in a film room letting us see what happens. But enough youthful enthusiasm that unfortunately many veteran broadcasters lose over time and especially tend to lack covering games of the stature of Titans-Raiders in Week 1.

A YouTube video posted pieced together all the plays in which Romo told us ahead of time what would happen, and he did so correctly so many times it was uncanny for some.  People couldn’t believe how well he was able to predict the play on the field.

So for now it works and America loves Romo and wants to hear what the former Cowboys quarterback has to say.

America probably loved Tony Romo all along, maybe we were just a little jealous or didn’t get to know him as intimately as we do now after a three-hour broadcast.

Who knew Romo was enthusiastic?

Romo the quarterback came out of no where-from Eastern Illinois University, to become the starter for the Dallas Cowboys. The ladies love him.  He’s an excellent golfer- always spending way too much time on the golf course during summers, with multiple attempts at U.S. Open qualifiers.

It’s easy to be jealous. He’s basically the Matthew McConaghey of football.

He didn’t win big for the Cowboys and thus was the subject to the usual criticism that comes with losing. Although looking back, it seems that most of that didn’t come from his now media peers but usually from the blogosphere or social media, but none the less he took his fair share of hurls from fans.

And Romo was never at the sheer popularity level of a Tom Brady or a Peyton Manning, whose names alone could probably carry them into a second career as a broadcasters.  So his debut as an NFL broadcaster on Sunday left for some curiosity how it might turn out or how it would be received.

And as much as some may have hoped or wondered if there would be an uneasiness, it all went pretty smooth.

In fact, this whole NFL analyst thing isn’t too hard, especially if you know the game.

And Nantz, as expected, played to his partner’s strength: 14 years of on the field experience.

Nantz repeatedly asked his partner “What do you see?” which led to Romo almost always predicting the direction of the offensive play, or calling out the exact direction of the rush or blitz.

America was amused.

Viewers seemed to be genuinely impressed if you are of the belief that social media is a good representation of viewer thinking. Social media liked Romo.

Other media members commented on how enthusiastic he was.

The only criticism is that Romo is a one-trick pony, giving us the play before we see it on the screen. As Dan Bernstein of CBS Chicago and others have pointed out, Romo’s job isn’t really to give us a spoiler but to analyze what just happened. Maybe we don’t want to know what’s coming before it happens?

Either way, usually TV people say you either have it or you don’t, and Romo has it. CBS Sports had a hunch Romo would work in the chair next to Nantz and they appear to be right.

Read more sports media insights and analysis at www.digitalsportsdaily.com

 

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