Entertainment Industry

Category: World Series

Fox and Dish Network take negotiations into late innings

Fox and satellite service Dish Network were closing in on a midnight Thursday deadline to strike a new agreement that would keep FX, National Geographic Channel and a host of regional sports networks on the air.  As of Thursday evening, the two sides were still chipping away on a new contract and it was unclear whether News Corp.'s Fox would pull its channels from the programming packages of Dish's more than 14 million customers.

The Fox broadcast network is not included in the current tussle, although it will become the centerpiece of a separate dispute between the two companies over a contract set to expire Oct. 31. Not coincidentally, that date falls during Major League Baseball's World Series, which Fox televises.

For now, the stakes are lower. The Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels are scheduled to finish their seasons this weekend with games broadcast by the Fox regional sports channels, Prime Ticket and Fox Sports West.  Dish subscribers would miss out if Fox pulls the channels.  Dish subscribers would also have to skip "The Dog Whisperer" on Friday on the National Geographic Channel, and "Sons of Anarchy" on Tuesday on FX, if the dispute dragged into next week.  

Angelspic

Contentious contract negotiations have become a trend in the television industry as programmers struggle to hike fees to try to cover the rising costs of programming. 

Cable and satellite television providers are trying to hang tough to mollify their customers, who are tired of ever-rising cable bills and now have other pay TV options. 

Already this year, Walt Disney Co. pulled its programming from New York cable giant Cablevision for several hours on the day the Academy Awards were broadcast, and the Hallmark Channel has been off AT&T U-Verse for nearly a month.

Fox and  Cablevision also are headed for an Oct. 15 showdown -- which could cause plenty of angst for fans of the playoff-bound New York Yankees.  If no agreement is reached, Cablevision would lose the right to carry the Fox broadcast network as well as two tiny channels, National Geographic Wild and the Fox Business Network.

The Fox News Channel is not part of either of these disputes.

-- Meg James

Photo by Jay L. Clendenin, Los Angeles Times

Yanks, Fox celebrate Series win

YANKS

Although a Game 7 would have been sweet for Fox, the network ended up getting its biggest audience for the Fall Classic in five years.

Some 22.3 million people tuned in last night to watch the New York Yankees defeat the defending champion Philadelphia Phillies in Game 6, according to Nielsen. That was up 30% from the Game 5 Monday night beat-down that the Phillies laid on the Yankees to push the Series back to New York for Wednesday night's match.

Game 6 was probably the difference between Fox and its parent News Corp. crying in their beer versus popping the champagne. The network will not lose money on the Series since it almost went the distance. Fox is amid a seven-year, $1.8-billion deal with Major League Baseball.

Overall, the Series averaged 19.4 million viewers per game, a 43% improvement over the 13.6 million that watched the Phillies beat the Tampa Bay Rays last fall. Among adults 18-49, the Series got a 6.2 rating. Each rating point in that demographic equals 1.3 million people.

For Fox, after years of disappointing ratings, a tight Series between two big-city teams was welcome relief. Now we'll see if those big numbers (for these days anyway) translate into bigger audiences for Fox' s entertainment lineup.

-- Joe Flint

Photo: Yanks celebrate their title. Credit: David J. Phillip/EPA

Phillies force a Game 6, which is good news for Fox

UTLET The defending champion Philadelphia Phillies jumped out to a commanding early lead over the New York Yankees in Game 5 of the World Series and sent the audience fleeing. But viewers will likely return for Game 6 in New York Wednesday when the Yanks will be trying to win their first championship since 2000. 

With the series going at least six games, Fox would seem to be safe from losing money on baseball this season. A seventh game, however, would have Fox executives popping the champagne big time. News Corp.'s Fox has a seven-year, $1.8-billion deal with Major League Baseball.

A total of 17.1 million viewers tuned in Monday night, a drop of 25% from Sunday. Of course, Sunday's game also benefited from a huge lead-in from Fox's coverage of the Green Bay-Minnesota Vikings game, which attracted almost 30 million viewers. Furthermore, unlike Sunday, ESPN had a tight "Monday Night Football" match between the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints that probably siphoned audience away from Fox once it became clear that the game was going to be a yawner.

For the first five games, the series has averaged 18.7 million viewers, and while the odds of it breaking the 20 million-average mark are long, it will be the most-watched series in five years and third-most-watched series of this decade -- unless for some  reason the bottom falls out on Wednesday.

-- Joe Flint

Photo: Chase Utley hits one of his two home runs while the Phillies' mascot cheers him on. Credit:  Andrew Mills / The Star-Ledger via US Presswire.

Another tight game means big numbers for Fox

AROD

Even if the New York Yankees wrap up the World Series tonight, there can be no argument that it has been one of the more compelling series as of late. Whether it's A-Rod getting beaned and then getting revenge two nights in a row, or the Philadelphia Phillies rallying only to fall short, as was the case last night, each game has been a nail-biter.

That's paying off for News Corp.'s Fox, which shells out $256 million a year for baseball. Last night's telecast got big numbers for the network, attracting 22.8 million viewers. That's almost 50% more than tuned into Game 4 a year ago between the Phillies and Tampa Bay Rays. It was the most-watched Game 4 since 2004, when the Red Sox clinched against the Cardinals and drew almost 30 million viewers, according to Nielsen. Fox did catch a break last night as there was no NFL football game on NBC.

Saturday's rain-delayed Game 3 broadcast still managed to lure 15.4 million viewers, and Fox is on pace to have its best series ratings in five years.

Fox also will likely have a pretty huge Sunday afternoon number from its coverage of Brett Favre's return to Green Bay as a Minnesota Viking.

-- Joe Flint

Photo: Alex Rodriguez rips one. Credit: Scott Rovak / U.S. Presswire

World Series Report: Fox's ratings still hot, A-Rod still not.

GAME2

Another tight pitching duel between the Philadelphia Phillies and The New York Yankees meant another night of strong ratings for Fox as Game 2 of the World Series drew 18.9 million viewers.

While that's off from the 19.5 million that tuned in for Game 1, the drop is only 3% and Game 2 did almost 50% better than last year's Game 2 between the Phillies and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, which attracted only 12.8 million viewers. 

The Yanks evened up the series at a game apiece, which is also good news for Fox, as a four-game sweep would have been bad news to their bottom line. Now the network will have at least five games. Fox pays Major League Baseball about $256 million a year for the rights, and most of that goes for the World Series and one league championship series.

So far, this series is on track to be the most-watched since the 2004 battle between the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals. That series averaged 25.4 million viewers. While that may be out of reach, this match may top the 20.1-million average that the 2003 series posted. That series was the last one featuring the Yankees, who lost to the Florida Marlins.

Fox is not wasting the opportunity. In Game 1 it ran a major promotion for the return of Jack Bauer in "24," and in Game 3 the cast of "Glee" will sing the national anthem.

In Philadelphia, the game had a 42.5 rating while in New York, it had a 29.8 rating. The ratings represent the percentage of homes watching in a particular market. In other words, there's a lot more to do in New York on a Thursday night than in Philadelphia. Hey, just kidding guys. No hate mail.

Fox wasn't the only network with bragging rights Thursday night. The CW's "The Vampire Diaries" hit a series high in viewers with 4.2 million tuning in, and scored new highs with adults 18-34 and women 18-49.

Oh, and A-Rod still doesn't have a hit.

-- Joe Flint

Previous posts:

World Series off to strong start

Photo: Yankees celebrate. Credit: John G. Mabanglo

Game 1 of World Series is a ratings hit, even if A-Rod didn't get one

PHILLIES

Alex Rodriguez went without a hit last night, but Game 1 of the World Series between the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies scored a big number for Fox, drawing 19.5 million viewers, a 34% improvement over last year's Game 1  between the Phillies and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

The game, which was a pitchers' duel for the first seven innings until the Phillies broke it open, is the biggest opening-game audience since the Red Sox-Cardinals match of 2004, which attracted 23.2 million viewers.

For Fox, the strong start bodes well after a string of disappointing series. Last year's Phillies-Rays series drew an audience of only 13.6 million viewers. The most-watched World Series in recent years was that 2004 match, which saw the Red Sox grab their first championship since 1918. That series, which only went four games, had an average audience of 25.4 million viewers, according to Nielsen.

Fox, which pays $256.5 million annually for its baseball deal, is hoping that the series goes at least six or seven games to maximize the advertising potential. The shorter the series, the less revenue (duh). 

In Philadelphia, the game had a 44.5 rating. The rating is the percentage of homes watching a particular program, so in other words almost 45% of all households in Philly were tuned into the game. In New York, Fox's broadcast got a 29.7 rating.

While baseball and Fox are feeling good about Wednesday night's numbers, our friends at the NFL pointed out that Sunday afternoon's game between the Atlanta Falcons and Dallas Cowboys drew almost 28.5 million viewers.

-- Joe Flint

Photo: Phillies celebrate taking Game 1. Credit: Rich Pilling / MLB Photos via Getty Images
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