This scary little tidbit comes via our fearless leader here at palatial Score Towers. After some follow-up, the man who makes the decisions learned that number is last in all of cable, not just sports. Ouch.

As one might expect, the average Getting Blankard pines openly and loudly for MLB Network to make inroads into our home and native land. Many hands wrung at the One Mount Pleasant suits that hold out on us, the deprived baseball fan longing for an outlet. Perhaps those suits are not so out to lunch, after all.

If these are the kind of numbers MLB Network pulls in south of the 49th, imagine the kind of business it would do here in Canada? Unless some wise owl turns the Canadian version of MLB Network into a Big Brother-style surveillance show about Brett Lawrie, neither Gordie nor Dougie will tune in on the regular.

The ratings drive the business, or so I understand. If people aren’t watching, nobody will line up to give them money to show their ads. It’s what is known as “the nature of the beast.”

Which makes this article from the Onion’s AV Club even timelier. The author, Noel Murray, cites Clubhouse Confidential as his favorite sports show and wonders if entertainment reporters shouldn’t follow the lead of modern baseball writers and delve more deeply into the numbers. Murray suggests writing about movies and TV can greatly improve if writers do a little bit more research and get behind the big, flashy “dollars on opening weekend/overnight ratings” stats.

What kind of person watches the MLB Network? This is a question worth answering. Anecdotally, I would say the average viewer of Clubhouse Confidential is comfortably in the key 18-49 demographic and is educated enough to earn a tidy wage. That isn’t nothing when it comes to advertising dollars.

For MLB Network to continue in its current form, it must draw more viewers. Buying shirts and ties for Dave Cameron and Rob Neyer isn’t cheap. As with any corporate entity, the inner workings and creative accounting of MLB Advanced Media clouds the picture in terms of profits and revenues. Is MLBAM content to funnel content back to their incredibly profitable web arm?

Either way, this isn’t good news for those of us who wish to see all-baseball television in Canada. If the current CRTC license holders don’t think they can make a buck with baseball programming, they’ll gladly sit on it as long as they can.

Comments (11)

  1. Well, just how high _should_ the ratings be for a baseball network in _February_?

  2. I’d still buy it…

  3. The terms of the CRTC order said that rogers must have their channel up and running by August 2011.

    “A licence will be issued once the applicant has satisfied the Commission, with supporting documentation, that the following requirements have been met:

    the applicant has entered into a distribution agreement with at least one licensed distributor; and

    the applicant has informed the Commission in writing that it is prepared to commence operations. The undertaking must be operational at the earliest possible date and in any event no later than 36 months from the date of this decision, unless a request for an extension of time is approved by the Commission before 13 August 2011. In order to ensure that such a request is processed in a timely manner, it should be submitted at least 60 days before that date.”

    I wonder whether Rogers obtained that extension.

  4. There are a number of possible explanations for the year-over-year change. The exhibition schedule began almost a full week earlier last season because of the March 31st start of the regular season, meaning pitchers and catchers reported earlier. Not to play too much into the inevitable accusations of East Coast bias, but the excitement about the Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies heading in to 2011 Spring Training was certainly palpable, and the northeast is a big baseball audience. Any of that could explain a 16% decrease since the audience is small to begin with.

    Frankly, the in-season ratings are what MLB Network has to worry about, and those have been less-than stellar, though probably not worse than most CRTC Category B specialty channels.

  5. Don’t worry Drew (& others) – MLB Network TV sucks: they have nothing to show you but talking heads and the same highlights you are likely to have come across in many other places.

    Despite the looking being so useless, I have found MLB Network Radio (available on XM) to be addictive. Endless hotstove and over/under goodness. Sure as hell beats morning comedy and even Bloomberg for the morning drive.

  6. I’m in the States, and I love baseball, but MLB Network is barely watchable. The hosts are annoying, the programming is terrible… not enough Peter Gammons. Eric Byrnes is the most annoying person on the planet.

    Even their in-season prime-time coverage is bad. It’s slow and awkward, although there’s been some improvement since the channel’s inception. I think they’re trying too hard not to be like ESPN Baseball Tonight, but they’re failing miserably.

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