From my view staring into the eternal vacuum that is the internet, most baseball fans seemed pleased with how Fox Sports 1 televised their first-ever MLB doubleheader on Saturday. The new A-team of Joe Buck, Harold Reynolds and Tom Verducci gelled pretty well. I personally think their new studio crew (host Kevin Burkhardt alongside analysts Gabe Kapler and Frank Thomas) have some real potential to bring a different spin to baseball studio chatter.
That said, there are certainly going to be certain ratings limitations on the package. It is on cable, on Saturday afternoons, and it’s only exclusive in certain cases. In this case, much of the second game of FS1’s Saturday doubleheader bled into the first game of TBS’s blockbuster Final Four doubleheader, which went across three networks.
So it’s not surprising to say that the ratings weren’t spectacular. The early game, featuring Twins/Indians, drew a 0.3 rating, despite being exclusively broadcast to the Minneapolis market. The later game, Giants/Dodgers, only improved to a 0.4, despite FS1 having much more reach in the LA market than Sportsnet LA.
Comparing the ratings to Fox’s baseball package (which was exclusive, and loaded up on regional games to keep ratings up) is futile, so we’ll use some of the other examples to show where the numbers were at: NBCSN’s Manchester United/Newcastle broadcast drew a 0.4 rating (frankly, a 0.3-0.4 is where much of NBCSN’s NHL and EPL programming resides). The Cricket World Cup Final on ESPN2 drew a 0.2 rating.
Is it a disaster? No. FS1 will likely have much higher numbers to report on a St. Louis-Cincinnati game that airs exclusively in all markets on the network tonight. That said, it’s certainly not the best start the network could’ve asked for.