Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Why Patriots-Giants Super Bowl XLVI Will Make TV Ratings Record

By Zach Baru

You do not need anyone to tell you Sunday's Super Bowl XLVI has all of the ingredients for ratings gold.    But will it top last year's ratings record of 111 million viewers when the Green Bay Packers beat the Pittsburgh Steelers?  All indications say yes.

It's pretty simple, two of the most recognizable figures in sports facing each other with two giant media markets.  It's the perfect formula for television ratings, and on Sunday, it will likely set the all-time record for the highest rated Super Bowl, and highest rated U.S. program of all-time.  Last year's game was more than just a worldwide television event, it was a game featuring two franchises with some of the most passionate followings in professional sports.

But when it comes to numbers, how well do the Packers and Steelers compare to the Patriots and Giants?  They don't.  The Patriots' average away attendance in 2011 was fifth in the league with 70,580.  And who was number one?  That's right, the New York Giants with 74,544.  The strong fan bases between the Patriots and the Giants, in addition to the massive media markets they represent, may very well be just enough to create the highest rated U.S. television program of all-time.

Will the fact that this game is so region-specific hurt the ratings potential?  No, because there is still enough of a west coast following for both of these teams.  This Super Bowl simply has no flaws for a potential television ratings record.  As fans across the country anticipate the big game, the NFL can be nothing but proud of what the outcome may be.

Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and reached at zachbaru@gmail.com.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Bruins Not Up-Front With Thomas' Actions

By Zach Baru

The Boston Bruins may be focussing their attention on hockey-related business, however it's the business off the ice that has been stirring the most attention this week.  Tim Thomas' decision not to attend the Bruins' visit to the White House has dominated the Boston media, and shows no signs of slowing down soon.

As the Bruins organization lets this debate continue, members of the Boston media have started to question and speculate tension within the organization.  This would be the time for the Bruins to be up-front with the situation, but this is not happening.  Instead, the Bruins are letting the media and fans determine the direction of this debate, which at times completely gets off the topic of politics.

This here is the problem.  The spotlight is getting put on internal matters of the Bruins' organization, and it is surprising not to see more of a response by the organization themselves.  This debate is not going to end right away, especially in this town.

Although this is a unique situation, there are still some similarities between this and the season-ending media mess the Red Sox experienced in 2011.  The Red Sox took a back seat to the attention, and let the media dictate the outcome.  The Bruins should learn from the mistakes by the Red Sox, and be more up-front with an obviously sensitive issue.

Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and reached at zachbaru@gmail.com.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Time Slot for Patriots and Tebow's Broncos Could Prevent Record

By Zach Baru

If you think the ratings for tonight's Patriots-Broncos playoff game are going to be of record-setting caliber, just imagine what they would be on a Sunday afternoon.  Traditionally, Saturday nights are not great nights for television ratings, which could possibly prevent any records from being set by tonight's playoff game.

The last time the Patriots faced the Broncos, the game recorded a 19.5 overnight rating, as 28.2 million people made it the highest rated game for CBS since 2007.  Add this to last weeks 42.4 million viewers  that watched Tim Tebow and the Broncos beat the Stealers, and this sets up the potential for record-breaking ratings for tonight's game.

The only problem is that tonight's game could produce better ratings had it been scheduled for tomorrow, in the 4:30 time-slot.  Late Sunday afternoon games generally do exceptionally well in the ratings.  The 4:15 and 4:30 start times produce better ratings than the earlier 1:00 time slot due to the added west coast audience that a later time brings in.  

Had this time been given for the Patriots-Broncos game, it is very possible that many records would be set.  Given the current time, this game will likely not reach its full ratings potential.  The NFL is very upfront, and focused on giving its games the opportunity to assume the maximum amount of exposure they can receive.  One such example in recent years is the way in which the NFL has handled its flex scheduling.

It is very possible that had the NFL been able to make a change in start time for tonight's Patriots-Broncos game, it would have done just that.  A disappointing effect of tonight's game time is the inability to truly measure what the appeal of Tebow brings to the ratings.  With so many potential marketing opportunities for the NFL involving Tebow, knowing exactly what he can bring to the ratings would be a great measurement for the league.  Instead, an unpopular time-slot will have to do.

Zach Baru can be followed on Twitter @zbaru and reached at zachbaru@gmail.com.