MLB crosstown showdowns provide interesting local ratings

Al Bello

New York, Chicago, southern California and the Bay Area all featured competing baseball teams and baseball broadcasts this week.

One of the remaining interesting things about the various baseball series that pit crosstown, interleague rivals against one another (and let's face it, unless the two teams competing are both good, it's no longer novel) is that both teams' television broadcasts get pitted against one another. The ratings can not only be a sign of how activated various baseball fanbases are, but how well liked baseball broadcasts are. Since the game's available on two channels (three, in the case of a couple games on ESPN's Tuesday doubleheader slate) the people are free to choose what they want.

Now, in most cases, people are going to go to their local broadcaster no matter what, and the performance of a team will determine how things went, ratings-wise. Also something to keep an eye on: networks use multiple partners, usually one cable and one over-the-air station, to broadcast various games. In the case of the Cubs and White Sox, the two switched broadcasters each day of the Windy City showdown.

Anyway, A source provided me with some ratings data for this week's four crosstown showdowns (New York, Chicago, LA-Anaheim and the Bay Area) and they provided some interesting, if predictable (in most cases) data. Let's go market by market.

New York: It was a good weak for the long-suffering Metropolitans. They swept the Bronx Bombers for the first time in 15 years, and looked rather good doing it. The Mets averaged a 3.2 between two telecasts on RSN Sportsnet New York and over-the-air WPIX. That includes an SNY-season high 2.9 for Wednesday's Game 3 and a WPIX-season high 3.8 for Game 4 on Thursday. The Mets 3.2 average actually beat out the 3.1 average for the Yankees, who televised three of the games on YES and Wednesday's game on local OTA WWOR.

Chicago: Usually the crosstown series are the biggest story in whatever city they're happening, but the Cubs-White Sox series happened to take place during the Blackhawks playoff run, which went up against Monday's Game 1 and likely ate in to some of the numbers, and likely kept the series in the back of some people's minds. Also, both teams are middling-to-poor this season. The two teams also swapped between CSN Chicago and over-the-air WGN during the week. The Cubs, who swept the three-game series (Tuesday's game was postponed), outdrew the White Sox, 2.2 to 2.1. Monday's Game 1 drew a 4.5 on WGN for the Sox broadcast, their highest over-the-air rating since June of 2011.

Southern California: With both teams at a fairly equal level this season (disappointing), the Dodgers probably have an unfair advantage here. They have Vin Scully, and they also broadcast three of the games in this series on over-the-air KCAL 9, as opposed to the Angels, who do not have Vin Scully and broadcast all four games on FS West. The Dodgers won the battle, 2.9 to 1.9. The Angels, who split the series, reached season highs twice on FSW.

Bay Area: Not really a fair fight. Even though the upstart Athletics are impressive, the Giants have all of the buzz and stars of a team that has won the World Series two of the last three seasons. They dominated the week, ratings-wise, despite getting beat three out of four. The four games -- three on CSN Bay Area, one on NBC affiliate KNTV -- averaged a 5.3 in the market. The A's -- who televised all four games on CSN California -- averaged a 1.6 rating. Wednesday's game, however, drew a season high 3.1 for Oakland.

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