May 18, 2024

You’re Joe Davis. You’re about to call the World Series. Congratulations — or condolences?

No sooner had the Arizona Diamondbacks eliminated the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday than the fan refrains erupted: Bad World Series matchup! Bad markets! Bad ratings!

As the World Series starts Friday, with the Diamondbacks facing the Texas Rangers, I checked with Davis to make sure he was still excited.

“Television is always going to want the top two-rated markets in any matchup, in any big game,” said Davis, the voice of the Dodgers as well as the voice of the World Series. “But the way I like to look at it is, this is really cool that we have two teams that we get to introduce to everybody.

“It would have been amazing to have Bryce Harper in the World Series. But it’s going to be a lot of fun — and a cool responsibility — to introduce everybody to Corbin Carroll, and to have that first chance to have these guys on a national stage.”

It is bordering on cliche to say Fox hates this matchup, but it is also bordering on incorrect. There is no reason for a fan to be concerned about what makes Fox happy, but which teams are playing is less important to Fox than how long the series lasts, because more games means more commercials means more money.

“If you had given Fox execs an ALCS choice before the season — a four-game Red Sox-Yankees sweep or a seven-game Rangers-Astros series — every single one of them would have opted for a Game 7,” wrote John Ourand in Sports Business Journal.

There is no reason for a fan to be concerned about ratings, either. If baseball’s popularity were reflected solely by ratings, Major League Baseball would not have reaped a record $11 billion in revenue last year.

Because teams play every day, MLB emphasizes local television deals. In local markets last year, MLB broadcasts ranked first or second in prime-time viewing in more than half of its markets, according to Forbes.

The tradeoff: limited exposure to teams in other markets, suppressing ratings for national broadcasts like the World Series.

“In a perfect world, you get teams that rate really well,” Davis said. “But this is a great chance to tell some stories, and I think that it’s a great chance to feature a unique team, in Arizona. In this era of home run hitting, they’re a team that’s shown a different path forward offensively. Very quickly, I was able to get excited for it.”

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