Baseball Gets Big Opening Numbers, Then Drops The Ball

Many want to believe the COVID-19 pandemic as it affects business -- and in particular, the media world -- will proceed in a linear trend: Virus cases and deaths go down and business rises. And we’re back to normal.

The promise of Major League Baseball coming back to TV airwaves this past weekend seemed to offer that.

But just days (over the weekend exactly) after the start of the delayed season, we have a disturbing story. On Monday, it was revealed that some 14 Miami Marlins players (and coaches) have been infected with COVID-19, forcing them to cancel that team’s home opener against the Baltimore Orioles on Monday.

And before you say that was an isolated event, now the Philadelphia Phillies-New York Yankees upcoming Monday game has also been cancelled.

Why? Because over the weekend, the Miami team played a three-game series with the Phillies in Philadelphia -- all of which means infections could have been transmitted to Yankee players, who would be occupying the same locker room facilities as the Marlins.

If that wasn’t all, the Orioles were already in Miami ready to play. Have those players been infected as well, from some previous infected facilities?

And if you believed pseudo-experts who said contract tracing wasn’t a big deal, I’d say: You'll always strike out if you never take a swing.

The good news is that there were big national TV ratings boosts for baseball on its return for 60-game shorten season. (Scarcity makes the heart grow fonder.)

On Thursday night, the ESPN opener posted the best regular season national TV network game in nine years -- 4 million Nielsen-measured viewers. Then on Saturday, the Fox Television Network’s daytime and prime-time games were up around 20% over a year ago.

Online gambling sites -- like Draft Kings -- witnessed strong results. But then on Monday -- after the news of the cancelled MLB games -- mid-day trading of Draft Kings stock was down almost 8%.

But let's take this a bit further, looking at overall TV content -- beyond other sports.

What would happen if some of the same disruptions hit new episode/series TV productions looking to start this season? What if there was an outbreak on the set, where a dozen or so TV professionals -- in front and behind the camera -- got infected?

What does a network do? Put the show back on hiatus, air reruns, and go back to those tortured-looking Zoom-infused scripted and on-scripted TV shows.

Surely more pandemic disruptions are coming. News reports around restaurants, bars, gyms re-closings, re-openings, and then back again should have been a harbinger.

Why shouldn’t we expect more stop-and-starts to occur in all kind of businesses, including media?

If this is the new normal for say another 10 to 12 months, TV marketers, and those big brand advertisers, will need to have a new game plan -- with lots of relievers in the bullpen.

2 comments about "Baseball Gets Big Opening Numbers, Then Drops The Ball".
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  1. David Scardino from TV & Film Content Development, July 28, 2020 at 2:08 p.m.

    Wayne, I believe the count as of this morning is up to 17.

  2. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, July 28, 2020 at 3:16 p.m.

    As I commented yesterday, the fact---per Nielsen---that 1.3% of the U.S. population was tuned in per commercial minute to baseball's "return" isn't exactly a stupendous welcome back showing. As for the Covid-19 infections---is anybody surprised? First they told us it was BS, then that it would be over soon, then to drink Clorox, and not to wear masks, and that "it" would disappear in warm weather, blah, blah, etc. Why do we believe that things will return to "normal" just by snapping our fingers and wishing it so? Sorry, but we have to wait until "they" develop a vaccine that actually works?That figures to be sometime next spring---so let's be patient---- and careful like sensible folks----rather than trying to rush things. After all,  we live in America---not China, Korea,Europe, etc. --- and we are the most advanced country on Earth-----aren't we?

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