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Long live the East Coast Bias

Feb 6, 2012, 7:29 AM EDT

New York Boston

The Super Bowl is over — no, I did not watch it, I watched the last three episodes of “Mad Men” on Netflix so I’m now caught up — so as far as I’m concerned it’s now baseball season. Indeed, this is the last full week in which there is no real baseball activity, as pitchers and catchers report next week. Ahh.

But I do wish to link one article that is mostly about football because it has some relevance for us as well. It’s about why the Patriots and Giants dominated the airwaves these past couple of weeks. And, as anyone who has read my thoughts on the matter knows, it’s understandable even if annoying. Here’s ESPN Senior Vice Presidenct Mark Gross:

I know some people may say there’s a Northeast or an East Coast bias, but you can’t argue with the ratings and the interest in those games versus the other games.” According to [ESPN's] own research, four of the nation’s top 15 favorite pro sports are from either New York or Boston. While teams such as the Yankees, Patriots, Red Sox and Giants appeal to fans in their home markets, their reach extends far beyond the back yard. More than 52 percent of Giants fans live outside of New York, according to ESPN Sports Poll data, and 57 percent of Pats fans reside outside of Boston.

And I’m sure it applies to the Yankees and Red Sox too.  Which explains why we get so much more of them in national broadcasts than anyone else. As John Ourand of SportsBusiness Journal says, east coast bias is a real thing, but “[t]elevision’s decision-makers don’t favor particular teams; they favor money.”

And if you were in their shoes you’d do the same thing. At least as long as you favored employment over unemployment.

  1. a125125125 - Feb 6, 2012 at 7:43 AM

    I understand that ratings decide which teams are selected for national broadcasts. However, if the WWL is to be taken seriously, SportsCenter and Baseball Tonight have a journalistic obligation to cover good teams and good stories regardless of ratings. ESPN’s blatant abandonment of West Coast baseball teams (and most Midwest teams as well) is ridiculous. They also have a nasty habit of saying the divisions they choose to ignore are “down this year”…..even when that is not the case. As an example, the 2010 San Francisco Giants were as colorful as any team in recent memory and featured a fantastic pitching staff…..but the team was largely ignored until the World Series. The WWL has become a caricature of itself…..BOO-YAH!

    • badmamainphilliesjamas - Feb 6, 2012 at 8:25 AM

      The problem is with the premise that “the WWL is to be taken seriously.” Remember, the E and the S stand for Entertainment and Sports. It’s not about journalism.

      • paperlions - Feb 6, 2012 at 10:12 AM

        Exactly. The 4-letter is all opinion all the time; there is a reason I never watch that network except for games and only go to the web site to read a few writers. Their “coverage” of events and news is generally atrocious.

    • yankeesgameday - Feb 6, 2012 at 9:35 AM

      The 2010 giants were 10 games out of first when September started, are networks supposed to waste resources covering third place teams in uninteresting divisions. They went on a big run over about five weeks. It was fun, it got covered, and the next season you couldn’t hide from bin Wilson. What more do you want?

      • a125125125 - Feb 6, 2012 at 11:04 AM

        The Giants were four games behind the Padres (not ten) when September started. So, yes, a team within four games of a division lead probably deserves some coverage (do you think ESPN would ignore the Red Sox/Yankees/Phillies if they were four games out on September 1st?). And I think I qualified my statement by saying that they have an obligation to cover “good teams and good stories”….without a doubt nobody wants to see Orioles highlights after August 1st.

        And honestly….if you’re a Yankees/Phillies/Red Sox fan, you don’t have to ignore the fact that this phenomenon exists. Take it as a compliment that you’re team is so well covered. But, a good number of us think that ESPN should try being a bit more balanced. MLB Network and NFL Network are tapping into an under-served audience….those of us that want to know how teams throughout the league are doing….not just two or three teams. In the long term, ESPN is only hurting itself because discerning viewers are leaving their studio programming….and have been for a while now.

        And if you think ESPN doesn’t at least proclaim to stand by a journalistic standard, read “Those Guys Have All the Fun.” They don’t walk if like they talk it, but they certainly talk it.

    • hystoracle - Feb 6, 2012 at 2:11 PM

      West Coast teams shouldn’t feel bad. They ignore teams on the east coast, too. If Yankees, Red Sox, or Cubs aren’t involved forget about it. When is the last time you saw a Rays v. Indians matchup in prime time? It is all about ratings. And sorry, Living on the east coast I’m not staying up to 10:30pm just to watch the beginning of the game. 6 am comes quickly.

      • jimeejohnson - Feb 11, 2012 at 9:10 PM

        Three words: Digital Video Recorder.

  2. ufullpj - Feb 6, 2012 at 7:44 AM

    The comments perfectly reflect ESPN’s very blurred line between entertainment (broadcasting the games), journalism (reporting on the games), and opinion (“analyzing” and hyping the games). Most people get upset because of ESPN’s hype and opinion coverage around games involving east coast teams they broadcast.

    Case in point: a few years ago, they did a “Baseball Tonight” remote at Fenway for an entire weekend Red Sox – Yankees series, complete with over dramatic promos, multiple analysts & feature stories, special segments on “SportsCenter”, essentially the whole nine yards.

    It was the second weekend in April.

    • kopy - Feb 6, 2012 at 8:58 AM

      I always think about this as a “chicken or the egg” scenario. They say I can’t argue with the ratings the ESPN favorites draw, but I question if those games get the ratings simply by ESPN hyping them up and jamming them down our throats on a routine basis.

      I wager that ESPN could turn any team into a hot ticket simply by giving them an uneven ratio of attention. Denver Broncos, anybody?

      • Ari Collins - Feb 6, 2012 at 9:49 AM

        You could hype a team, sure, but the Yankees and Red Sox are as popular as they are because they have consistently been very good teams who win championships and have large fanbases. ESPN might be able to get SOME fans for teams by hyping them, but Boston and New York have a higher ceiling for fans than most markets. And ESPN can’t help teams win championships.

      • kopy - Feb 6, 2012 at 10:11 AM

        They can’t help teams win championships, but they can help increase the revenue a team receives by drawing more fans toward it. The media has the power to influence fan bases similar to their ability to influence an election. For serious fans, this doesn’t matter. But it’s always helpful when a powerful media force creates a buzz around your team, and puts the idea in the heads of casual fans to spend money on tickets and/or apparel.

        I’m not saying that this is a massively significant effect, or necessarily unfair, but the ability for ESPN to have this power on a team can’t be altogether disregarded. There are other teams that have been just as successful without anything close to the same level of hype. The Cardinals have been better than anyone in the past decade (with 2 championships out of 3 appearances), and the Rangers finished better than the Yankees/Red Sox for 2 years running.

      • Ari Collins - Feb 6, 2012 at 10:17 AM

        But I don’t think the Cards or Rangers have won more regular season games over the last 10 years. And, more importantly, they have smaller fan markets.

        I’d guess the number of fans is MUCH more a function of market, sustained success, and things like how easy it is to watch the game on TV and at the stadium (the latter REALLY holding back the Rays).

  3. woodenulykteneau - Feb 6, 2012 at 7:57 AM

    Funny you should reference employment, Craig, because missing from that piece of typing was the discussion as to why so many people leave the New York-New England region. It’s simple: Jobs.

    As it is now, it’s getting older and older because the jobs are leaving and affordable housing is about as common as a Young Republican without a trust fund. All six of the New England states are in the Top 11 for median age in the U.S., topped by Maine (40.7), and followed closely by Vermont (40.3). New York is 19th. If it weren’t for immigration, virtually every one of those seven states would have negative population growth.

    • hammyofdoom - Feb 6, 2012 at 9:19 AM

      While that is all true, I’m not too sure what it has to do with the actual article? I mean I’m a college student in Maine and it’s REALLY noticeable, especially in rural areas that our main export is young talent, but if you’re trying to say the reason that they do these games is because more people leave New England, meaning that they are going to have a larger viewership across the nation I can kind of buy the premise, otherwise I dunno why you mentioned that stuff hah

      • woodenulykteneau - Feb 6, 2012 at 9:23 AM

        Which community college?

      • Ari Collins - Feb 6, 2012 at 10:18 AM

        Welcome to losing the argument, Wood.

      • woodenulykteneau - Feb 6, 2012 at 10:30 AM

        Not sure what you mean, Oblio.

      • fearlessleader - Feb 6, 2012 at 10:44 AM

        Hey wooden—as a community college professor who watches my students work three jobs apiece and forgo sleep to get an education, I’d like to invite you to shove your elitist attitude. No fair making “Republicans with trust funds” jokes if you’re an insufferable snob too.

      • woodenulykteneau - Feb 6, 2012 at 10:52 AM

        I’m only as insufferable as you are able to recognize a rhetorical question.

      • jimbo1949 - Feb 6, 2012 at 10:52 AM

        Well said, fearless….+2

      • Ari Collins - Feb 6, 2012 at 11:22 AM

        Your rhetorical question was an ad hominem insult. No one thought you were honestly curious what community college he attended.

      • woodenulykteneau - Feb 6, 2012 at 11:45 AM

        You’re right: You don’t have to be a community college student to contradict yourself while spewing a 72-word run-on sentence. I’m sorry for making such an unlikely conclusion.

      • Ari Collins - Feb 6, 2012 at 11:57 AM

        Next time, try responding to what someone says instead of insulting them. People won’t consider you a condescending douche.

        Also, I wouldn’t insult someone else’s writing when you also accuse people of not understanding that your insult was in rhetorical question form (and therefore okay?). Or accuse them of contradicting themselves, when in fact all he did was agree with your point but wonder why it’s relevant.

        Also also, if you need to feel better about yourself by attacking poor grammar on the internet, well… I guess you must feel pretty great every day.

      • woodenulykteneau - Feb 6, 2012 at 12:49 PM

        Pot, kettle.

      • Ari Collins - Feb 6, 2012 at 1:18 PM

        Pot, kettle? If “telling someone to stop insulting everyone,” is the same as, “insulting everyone,” then sure. Same thing.

      • cur68 - Feb 6, 2012 at 5:19 PM

        I agree hammy: the comment and argument, while valid (and, IMO, seem to exist so as the writer can show off) are beside the point. The post was meant to point out that the demographics of the nation demand that East Coast teams gets more air play, not why the demographics are what they are.

        I attended community college to get my original accreditation, lo those many decades ago. Petty proud of it, too.

    • woodenulykteneau - Feb 6, 2012 at 2:48 PM

      As in “you’re the pot calling the kettle black” by complaining about me “being a condescending douchebag”… while being a condescending douchebag in so doing it. Is that clear enough for you, Oblio? Do I need to use smaller words?

      • Ari Collins - Feb 6, 2012 at 5:19 PM

        No, I said people will consider you a condescending douche. I’m sure you’re much nicer in person (most people are). My telling you that you’re coming off like a condescending douche is not condescending; I’m simply explaining to you why you insulting everyone is not winning you any arguments (or friends).

        If you consider it condescending to explain the rules of kind behavior, then so be it. You had a valid side point originally; too bad you had to ruin it.

        TL;DR version: I’m sorry if the kettle was offended when the pot asked him nicely to stop insulting everyone.

  4. proudlycanadian - Feb 6, 2012 at 8:04 AM

    ESPN will have difficulty when the Jays catch fire. It will happen soon as Toronto has a talented young team and a lot of talented prospects. They will have little help from Toronto’s front office due to some ignorant stories emanating from ESPN.

    • a125125125 - Feb 6, 2012 at 8:07 AM

      “I have no idea what you are talking about.”
      –The Guy in the White Shirt

  5. kiwicricket - Feb 6, 2012 at 8:22 AM

    “And if you were in their shoes you’d do the same thing. At least as long as you favored employment over unemployment.”

    Dam their employment Mr C! I want to watch different teams now and again.

    • Old Gator - Feb 6, 2012 at 8:39 AM

      To hell with employment. Moonbase now!
      -Newt

      • Gamera the Brave - Feb 6, 2012 at 3:32 PM

        Thanks again, Gator – now I have to Netflix “Space: 1999″.
        Ah – I miss the dramatic range of Martin Landau and Barbara Bain…
        Come for the cool special effects, stay for the nonsensical plotlines!

  6. yankeesfanlen - Feb 6, 2012 at 8:27 AM

    Things look normal enough around these parts. Giants getting ready for Parade in Canyon of Heroes tomorrow, and more importantly, Yankees to start quest for #28 soon.
    Of greatest importance, we’ll have REAL baseball to yap about soon.

    • Old Gator - Feb 6, 2012 at 8:41 AM

      Well, down here in Macondo we will, anyway. You will have designatedhitterball to talk about. Tsk, tsk.

      • stex52 - Feb 6, 2012 at 9:30 AM

        And in Houston for one more season. The baseball won’t be good, but at least it will be real.

        Maybe they got that Mayan 2012 thing wrong. Maybe those guys were just predicting the move of the Astros to the AL. Sure feels like the end of the world.

      • sdelmonte - Feb 6, 2012 at 10:03 AM

        We still have the Mets.

        Or at least I do. I suspect I might have the park to myself, given how most other fans are sounding.

  7. phillyphreak - Feb 6, 2012 at 8:30 AM

    If the East Coast Bias really bothers people, then one idea would be to cancel cable/satellite TV. With the money one would save they could purchase the MLB tv package online. Then just plug your computer into your TV…boom.

    The added benefit is not having to watch ESPN.

    • Old Gator - Feb 6, 2012 at 8:45 AM

      The added benefit is not having to watch American Idol, X-Factor, whichever dysfunctional family hanging out their agonies for the public to feed on like flies on shit is flavor of the season, half hour long paid commercial programs for vacuum cleaners, garish makeup, flimsy home gym equipment and dancing to awful music disguised as the latest fitness craze, endlessly mindless conversations between white bread talk show hosts and high maintenance airheaded bimbo starlets….

  8. skeleteeth - Feb 6, 2012 at 8:36 AM

    “More than 52 percent of Giants fans live outside of New York, according to ESPN Sports Poll data, and 57 percent of Pats fans reside outside of Boston.”

    Maybe that’s because neither the Giants nor the Patriots actually play in NYC or Boston?

    • kopy - Feb 6, 2012 at 8:59 AM

      You could have even left the “C” off “NYC.”

    • Ari Collins - Feb 6, 2012 at 9:01 AM

      Good point. I’d like to know how many reside outside of New England and the Tri-State Area.

      I’m sure it’s still a significant percentage, though.

  9. Ari Collins - Feb 6, 2012 at 9:03 AM

    Honestly, people care why someone on TV isn’t talking about their team as much as a team with more fans… why?

  10. hammyofdoom - Feb 6, 2012 at 9:22 AM

    While I’m a Sox fan, they “bias” does bother me as well. I’m a guy who just loves baseball in general, and I’d actually like to see highlights of what the dodgers and diamondbacks did in a particular day. However, I can see why they don’t. Days with 15 baseball games, plus all the other sports news to deal with in a day, games that aren’t “Important” get thrown to the wayside. I don’t like it, but its perfect buisness sense for ESPN. This is why MLB.TV is my friend

    • hammyofdoom - Feb 6, 2012 at 9:28 AM

      UGH *the bias*

    • skeleteeth - Feb 6, 2012 at 10:09 AM

      That’s what this link is for:

      http://mlb.mlb.com/mediacenter/index.jsp

      ESPN hasn’t done anything well for years.

  11. rooney24 - Feb 6, 2012 at 9:39 AM

    Those numbers mean nothing. What percent of Packer fans don’t actually live “in Green Bay”? 95% What percent of Bears fans don’t live “in Chicago”? 60% Even if you included the entire state, by definition, New England would get support from multiple states, according to their name.

    There are lies, damn lies, and statistics. You can make statistics support nearly any side of an issue, depending on how you present those statistics.

    • Ari Collins - Feb 6, 2012 at 9:52 AM

      Yes, but a higher proportion of New England/Tri-State fans live elsewhere than other teams’ fans, for a number of demographic reasons.

      • woodenulykteneau - Feb 6, 2012 at 10:32 AM

        Which I outlined above, cupcake.

      • Ari Collins - Feb 6, 2012 at 11:16 AM

        Umm. No, you didn’t. You said that New England would have a high percentage of Pats fans becauseof the name. I said that the Pats would have a higher percentage of OUT-of-NE fans than other teams have outside of their markets.

        I think we can agree that they’re using the wrong number here. But Craig’s point about the large out-of-market fanbase is a valid one.

      • woodenulykteneau - Feb 6, 2012 at 11:32 AM

        Uh, yes I did. What part of “people leaving the New York/New England region for jobs” did you not understand?

      • Ari Collins - Feb 6, 2012 at 11:39 AM

        Ohhhhh, I didn’t realize what comment you were referring to. My bad!

        Still not sure why you’re insulting me if you agree with me and disagree with the guy I was responding to. (Or why you’d insult me even if you disagreed with me, but that’s another issue.)

      • woodenulykteneau - Feb 6, 2012 at 11:48 AM

        That’s a good point. I have a problem with atonal porcines that I can’t help, I guess.

    • heynerdlinger - Feb 6, 2012 at 10:08 AM

      Are you suggesting that the production chiefs at ESPN are unaware of the distribution of fan bases for all teams? Is this a conspiracy that is somehow leaving money on the table in order to broadcast their favorite teams?

      The argument I don’t understand about all of this is just whose fan loyalties are being swayed by heavy dose of East Coast broadcasts? Are Pirates fans really going to start rooting for the Yankees because they’re on Sunday Night Baseball? It seems much more likely that those fans will simply not watch ESPN.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 6, 2012 at 11:19 AM

        It seems much more likely that those fans will simply not watch ESPN.

        Hypothetical numbers here, but what if ESPN knows that by constantly showing Yanks/Sox/Phillies games, they’ll average 10M viewers a game, but if they show a Pirates game, they’ll get 500,000. Is the loss of 9.5M viewers worth it to maybe enrich their Pirates viewership by 5%?

        I’m probably the most critical person of ESPN that I know. Their coverage sucks, their idea of “analysts/analysis” is piss poor, and pre/post game shows are abhorrent; however, the one thing i’m sure they have is a ton of number crunchers working out how cost effective it is to show X team Y number of times.

  12. ptfu - Feb 6, 2012 at 10:57 AM

    If the Cubs ever get good again, watch out. There are a lot of LONG-suffering Cub fans, bandwagoners, and rubberneckers waiting for Cub success and/or the inevitable crash. There will be a blizzard of coverage and it still won’t meet the demand.

  13. heynerdlinger - Feb 6, 2012 at 11:21 AM

    Craig – You should really take the Merritt if you’re heading between NYC and Boston; It’s a much nicer drive.

    • skeleteeth - Feb 6, 2012 at 12:22 PM

      I was going to mention that but couldn’t quite tell if it was 91 or Route 9. Either way, 95 after the GW is for suckers. That stretch of road gives cities such a bad rap.

      I always look forward to the HH Pkwy / Cross County / Merritt Pkwy portion of my trip to the Northeast.

      • heynerdlinger - Feb 6, 2012 at 1:29 PM

        CT Route 15 = Merritt Parkway

      • skeleteeth - Feb 6, 2012 at 2:34 PM

        No, I meant the route in the map at the top of the page. I was just on the Merritt last night…

  14. detroitcityryda - Feb 6, 2012 at 11:33 AM

    Everybody Hates the yanks and red sox because they have the most loudmouth annoying fan base in the world .same goes for patriots,jets,(giants get a pass )

  15. rexadelphia8 - Feb 6, 2012 at 11:52 AM

    Fcuk new York and fcuk Boston. Philly mothrafuckrs

    • kcfanatic - Feb 6, 2012 at 1:53 PM

      Innppropriate

  16. joshftw - Feb 6, 2012 at 3:16 PM

    And hey, at least Mad Men will be back in a few weeks too!

  17. farvite - Feb 6, 2012 at 3:25 PM

    ESPN is the best and worst thing to happen to pro sports.

  18. normcash - Feb 6, 2012 at 5:02 PM

    This coming baseball season will test ESPN’s obvious east coast bias. With Miguel Cabrera,
    Prince Fielder and Justin Verlander all on the same team—which doesn’t represent NY, Boston or Philadelphia—what will they do? Assuredly, they will not cover the Tigers like they would the Red Sox, Yankees or Phillies if those three gentlemen played in THOSE cities.

    • heynerdlinger - Feb 6, 2012 at 9:44 PM

      Personally, I’m looking forward to the live cut-ins of every Bryce Harper at bat.

  19. aceshigh11 - Feb 6, 2012 at 10:10 PM

    Hey, look!

    There’s Bristol, CT on that map, home of ESPN and…would you look at that…midway between NYC and Boston!

    Funny how that happened.

  20. scott7791 - Feb 7, 2012 at 10:53 PM

    It’s a little harsh and snarky to say, “And if you were in their shoes you’d do the same thing. At least as long as you favored employment over unemployment,” Craig. Don’t you think that there’s at least part of the reason that (over)covering the East Coast markets is so profitable BECAUSE that’s where the coverage has been? It’s kind of a chicken and egg situation, where you can’t be quite sure which is the cause and which is the effect. But as someone who is from the east coast but now lives on the west coast, I can tell you that the media coverage has not kept up with the population shift over the past generation. Someday, someone will realize this, and “that’s the way it’s always been” will be replaced by “how did everyone miss this for so long”?

  21. yahmule - Feb 11, 2012 at 12:10 PM

    Excessive regional pride is indicative of low intellect.

    • jimeejohnson - Feb 11, 2012 at 9:16 PM

      “Who dat?”

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