31 January 2006

Now, the TV side

A small blurb about Fox Sports Net ratings was in Monday's Merc. If nothing else, it shows that the Giants' hegemony over the Bay Area market continues. But a closer look reveals that the Giants' top ten games came at the beginning and end of the 2005 season, when the Giants were either contending or had Barry Bonds back, or both. I wonder what the ratings were like when the Gigantes were horrifically bad last June?

Nevertheless, the A's best numbers show that they pull in about half the audience of the Giants. Even the pennant race with the Angels in August and September didn't garner a 3 rating. But a look at other two-team markets shows that this pattern is repeated elsewhere. The Yanks often triple the Mets in cable ratings. The Mets have responded by starting up their own cable network, Sportsnet New York, in hopes of boosting ratings and revenue the way the YES network has helped the Yanks. The Cubs have dominated the Chicago market, though the White Sox World Series win should make them more competitive. LA is the notable exception. Arte Moreno's renaming move and aggressive LA marketing have paid off. Combine that with the Halos' on-field success, and the Angels have pulled even with the Dodgers on cable (and at times even pulled ahead).

Since the A's are locked into a cable deal with Fox Sports Net through at least 2010, the only chance the A's have to expand their audience is through its over-the-air contract, currently with KICU. It would make sense for the A's to leave KICU, which has limited range beyond the South Bay, for a San Francisco-based station such as KRON-4 or the soon-to-be-orphaned KBWB-20. Sooner or later all those Frasier reruns on KRON are going to get old and stale, right? Even if it meant getting slightly lower TV revenue for a couple years, it might be worth it because of the much larger potential audience.