Thursday’s Field of Dreams game between the Yankees and White Sox in Iowa (Thursday night at 8 PM Eastern on Fox) should at the very least be fun for viewers.
For Fox, though, it’s set to be incredibly lucrative. Obviously the typical regular season games don’t have the kind of event cachet that this one does (when else would Guy Fieri create an apple pie hot dog?), but the matchup and locale enabled Fox to put a premium rate on the game for advertisers, and according to a report from John Ourand at Sports Business Journal, Fox is going to absolutely smash their revenue record for a regular season game.
Fox will rake in more ad sales revenue from MLB’s Field of Dreams game this week than from any other regular-season game during the network’s 25-year relationship with the league. Not only that, but the ad sales revenue from Thursday’s game will more than double the revenue from the No. 2 regular-season game, according to Fox Sports Exec VP/Sports Sales Seth Winter.
Advertiser response has been so good that Winter expressed hope that MLB will turn it into an annual event. “If baseball asks us, we love it,” Winter said. “There are so many great rivalries in baseball, why not bring great rivalries every year?”
As Ourand notes, Fox made it part of their overall package, which certainly makes strategic sense. It’s differentiated enough that it probably helped increase interest in the rest of the regular season package.
Fox’s ad sales plan around the Field of Dreams game was based on keeping it as part of the network’s overall baseball package. “We didn’t allow people to buy it by itself,” Winter said. “We had a premium [rate] against it, just like we would an All-Star Game or post season. It was not a regular season [rate].”
If it goes well, MLB could certainly make this an annual tradition. It’s certainly no less disruptive than, say, the NFL going to London multiple times per season, or the NBA kicking off overseas. The ratings will certainly be the real tell, of course, but MLB has August almost all to itself, and it makes a ton of sense to do everything possible to grab sports headlines during otherwise dead spots on the calendar.