Jack Myers' Think Tank: Yankees And Fox To Team For New World Series Reality Show?
I'm still struggling to find my way with the new television season. My favorite new shows to date are "Cane" on CBS, "Dirty Sexy Money" on ABC and "Women's Murder Club" on ABC. I expect the networks will give many more shows than usual a chance to gain some traction, tweaking the characters, story lines, scheduling and marketing to see if they can generate buzz and audiences. Since baseball and Fox have little hope left that the World Series can generate marginal interest even among diehard baseball fans, it will open up opportunities to the other networks to improve ratings compared to last year. Expect ABC, CBS and NBC to quickly insert original series episodes into slots opposite the World Series when repeats were planned. The only real World Series fan interest story is the tremendous success of the Colorado Rockies over the last few weeks of the season. I'm curious to learn more about the team.
But I am eager to watch as the Yankees' soap opera continues to unfold. My predictions: Alex Rodriguez re-signs with the Yankees for some number between what the team currently pays him and what he could command from the Chicago Cubs and other contenders. Although Joe Torre has apparently turned down a one-year $5 million offer, I predict he will be hired under a five-year contract as special advisor to the General Manager. Bucky Dent (yes, Bucky Dent) is hired as manager with a two- or three-year contract. Ron Guidry does not return as pitching coach, and I'm not sure what happens to Don Mattingly, although I hope he returns.
Now this would make great reality TV, and rest assured the only reason the Yankees' decisions have been delayed is to release the news in the midst of the World Series, when it can be the most disruptive and command the most attention. If the Yankees and Fox are talking, and I expect they are, the Yankees' news will be unveiled by Fox TV and will be packaged to draw as many fans to the World Series games as possible. That means interviews with team management, with opposing players and team executives, and with Yankees players. Let the Yankees become a new Fox World Series reality event and maybe, just maybe, the Series will generate reasonable audiences.
If Fox succeeds in capturing the Yankee story as it unfolds, the company would be smart to extend the platform to Fox Business News, translating the economics of the deal and making the Yankees center stage for a couple of days. Baseball, after all, is big business -- and there is no bigger sports business franchise than the New York Yankees.
On the subject of Fox News, with all the hype and hoopla surrounding the launch, on-air the anchors, hosts and guests were serious, reasonably subdued and focused on business - with a pop culture skew.
For a full week before launch, Fox ran a fully loaded dress rehearsal, including guests in full makeup, just as if the network was on-air. Every detail was reviewed, previewed, analyzed and rehearsed. Once the network actually was on-air, it went smoothly thanks to meticulous planning. At first look, Fox News is faster paced than CNBC (Jim Kramer is a force of nature, so not included in the comparison.) Fox News has more guests, more stories, less of a ticker-tape parade of facts and figures, and more pop culture-focused stories. CNBC has a deeper talent line-up and more gravitas, if that means anything to anyone anymore.
The next few years will bring a battle for talent worthy of the A-Rod negotiations -- and far more network-defining programming from the folks who brought you "The O'Reilly Factor."