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Fox to put a lot more Saturday games in prime time this season

Feb 15, 2012, 1:50 PM EDT

old TV

I don’t know about you, but my summer Saturday afternoons are filled with shopping, cleaning, kids’ birthday parties, trips to the community pool and drinking beer while staring into the middle distance and wondering, if I jumped into my car and drove west with a purpose, how far I’d get before the authorities caught up with me and brought me back to the domestic existence from which I have no hope of escaping until at least the summer of 2023 when my son goes away to college.

Sorry. I may have said too much there.

The point is, it’s often very hard for me to find time to sit down and watch a baseball game on Saturday afternoon.  Last year Fox, realizing this, moved a couple to prime time where, amazingly, the ratings were higher.  So this year they’re doing it with several more games:

The latest attempt to turn TV’s least-watched night into a showcase for sports: Fox’s regular-season baseball will move to Saturday prime time (7 ET) for eight weeks in a row. The move, to be formally announced today, will start May 19 with regionalized coverage of five games, led by Boston Red Sox-Philadelphia Phillies. Fox’s idea is to package five or six games in prime time, compared with the usual three in Fox’s afternoon slots, offering options to swing viewers between games and, when games end quickly, switch to other games.

Given how much success ABC and ESPN have had with college football on Saturday nights, it makes perfect sense that baseball would do better in the evening hours than it does in the afternoon.  Yes, the big drawback is that it messes with local broadcasts of non-national games — the blackout rules will still apply, it seems — but it’s probably better for MLB to have another prime time national showcase apart from Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN.

  1. kalinedrive - Feb 15, 2012 at 2:12 PM

    This is horrible news. I pay for Extra Innings to watch the Tigers from Florida, and I won’t be able to watch them when Fox has the exclusive rights. There were a few games last year when the Tigers were one of the regional Fox afternoon games and I couldn’t get them because we would get the Braves or Yankees or something. I guess my only hope is that the Tigers are top-shelf enough to get game-of-the-week status sometimes. Or that they are playing the Yankees. :(

    • saints97 - Feb 15, 2012 at 3:17 PM

      I am with you there. The deal with Fox games preventing us from watching our out of town teams is a bad one. I buy that package to watch all of the games, not to be stuck with just one once a week.

      • kalinedrive - Feb 15, 2012 at 4:32 PM

        It seems to me that the exclusivity deal with Fox should only allow them to block the local broadcasts on “free” TV, so they have the only game available for the average viewer. When I’ve paid $160 to get the subscription service, I should still get the out-of-town games.

        Then again, I think it’s ridiculous and should be illegal that NFL Sunday Ticket is only available on DirecTV. If I’m willing to pay for your (NFL) product, why should I have to buy someone else’s product also? (Same with the original iPhone exclusivity deal with AT&T, etc.)

    • lostsok - Feb 16, 2012 at 12:26 AM

      Funny, I was right there with you the last couple years having the MLB package. I hated Saturday afternoon because that was the worst day to watch baseball: you HAD to watch the Fox game. Now, with my wife out of work and unable to afford the package…this becomes GOOD news!

      Odd how that works out.

  2. Utley's Hair - Feb 15, 2012 at 2:16 PM

    Maybe this will prove to be too many early-bird specials for McCarebear to miss, leading him to give up the mic? Nah…too cake-in-the-sky hope…right?

    • El Bravo - Feb 15, 2012 at 5:01 PM

      Oh so you’re stealing pie-related sayings now and replacing them with cake? Do you also replace baseballs with footballs and swing bats at them? Do you replace your car with a tomato and try to steer it down the street? I tell you, it’s a piece of pie finding ways to bash cake-lovers. I mean it’s like a pie walk, it’s so easy.

  3. Gamera the Brave - Feb 15, 2012 at 2:16 PM

    “Sorry. I may have said too much there.”
    Craig, on the contrary – given the demographic here, you probably speak for many of us. Thanks for taking the bullet for the rest of us.

    • rcali - Feb 15, 2012 at 4:50 PM

      That truly was a great line. Somebody take my keys from me….

  4. sdelmonte - Feb 15, 2012 at 2:26 PM

    Given that my Saturdays are filled with the Jewish Sabbath, a few more night games on free TV is a great idea. Next, they need to rejigger the entire schedule for me. Around my religion, my job, my family, and my ability to pay for tickets.

    Given how small I fear the Mets fanbase is now, I think I can convince the Mets to accommodate me.

  5. blanchonegro - Feb 15, 2012 at 2:37 PM

    Just great way to ruin Saturday Nights @ Buffalo Wild Wings!

    • sportsdrenched.com - Feb 15, 2012 at 3:34 PM

      Unless there’s a UFC Fight

  6. thelucasjj - Feb 15, 2012 at 2:49 PM

    I hope MLB is smart enough to adjust their blackout policy accordingly. I know in the article it says that blackouts apply but on the MLB.TV site it says:

    “Regular Season Weekend U.S. National Live Blackout: Due to Major League Baseball exclusivities, live games occurring each Saturday with a scheduled start time after 1:10 PM ET or before 8:00 PM ET”

    We better not be screwed out of day games and night games.

  7. sportsdrenched.com - Feb 15, 2012 at 3:36 PM

    I’m all for this too. Saturdays in the summer are for being outside…NOT in front of the TV.

  8. ufullpj - Feb 15, 2012 at 3:44 PM

    MLB is in sort of a weird situation – they have a ridiculous blackout policy, yet they are raking in Billions from the various new media options – streaming video, radio, and the like. The problem is that their blackout policy isn’t in concert with their new media strategy or their local / national TV deals. The answer, they’ll soon find out, is not to further restrict access.

    And for the record, I live in a state without a MLB team, yet we’re in 5 “home markets” and constantly have to deal with various blackouts.

    And if Fox can figure out how to get out-of-market football games to all markets, they can figure out the same for MLB. I don’t want my favorite team getting the Fox Game of The Week – because they’ll never be shown where I live, and then I can’t watch the game…despite paying for MLB Extra Innings, MLB.com, and MLB AtBat for iPhone, iPad.

    Jesus, I just realized I need to get a life and at least put half of that yearly spend away to pay for kid’s undergrad and graduate schools.

  9. buffalomafia - Feb 15, 2012 at 4:30 PM

    Primetime games should start @ 7pm so kids could watch whole game?

  10. deep64blue - Feb 15, 2012 at 4:34 PM

    Bad news for viewers this side of the pond where day games = early evening for us :-(

  11. dad4dds - Feb 15, 2012 at 5:37 PM

    Without Joe Buck I hope.

  12. drpompanoduke - Feb 15, 2012 at 8:32 PM

    Yes agreed without Joe talking too much Buck. Hate this news I pay for the package & want all the games.

  13. simon94022 - Feb 15, 2012 at 9:17 PM

    If the result of this is to force most of the non-FOX games to Sat. afternoon, I think it’s great.

    I grew up with the A’s and Giants playing exclusively in the day time on Saturdays and Sundays. So of course, that means God intended it that way.

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