CHICAGO – The Indians have taken an “Us against the world” mentality, as it seems everybody outside of Cleveland wants to see the Cubs win the World Series.
Strange as it may seem, there may be a small subsection of people hoping for an Indians title: Fox executives.
The Cubs have garnered enormous ratings all month for Fox and its cable channel, FS1. But what will happen next season if the “Curse of the Billy Goat” is exorcised and the Cubs continue to win?
“If you’re talking about it from a storyline standpoint, it would be better if the Cubs lose this time around because everybody believes they’ll have another crack at it,” said one sports television consultant who asked not to be identified due to his relationship with multiple networks. “They won’t say it out loud, but everybody involved would probably like to see Cleveland win in seven games.”
Colin Cowherd, who hosts both “The Herd” and “Speak for Yourself” on FS1, believes both the network and Major League Baseball would benefit greatly from a Cubs loss in the World Series.
“I’m speaking not on behalf of my management, but we all know how movies are made: conflict and resolution to conflict,” Cowherd told the Daily News. “I compare it to a sitcom where two people flirt, and then the moment they get together, it’s like, ‘OK. Now what?’ There’s something to be said about the Cubs getting to Game 7 and losing.
“Baseball has never done a great job of creating stories. The NBA gives you one every year, the NFL gives you one every week; this is arguably the last great, big, broad, embraceable baseball story. We had the Red Sox, they couldn’t get past the Yankees, and then they did. How many stories in baseball do we have that my sister, who doesn’t watch sports, totally understands?
“Baseball has a lot of qualities that are very endearing, but it doesn’t always tell great stories that a casual sports fan can get his or her arms around. It just feels like this is such a great story, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to string it out for a couple years.”
The first two games of the World Series were the highest for the network in the Fall Classic since 2009, averaging 18.3 million viewers on Fox, up 27 percent from last year’s Royals-Mets series.
The last World Series to draw more viewers was the Yankees-Phillies series in 2009, which had an average of 19.2 million.
“These ratings are all about the Cubs. Period,” the TV consultant said. “With all due respect to Cleveland, which is a great story, the Cubs are the team that has captured the national attention. As the Cubs go, so have gone the ratings.”
With 30-second commercials selling for more than $500,000 each, Fox’s primary concern is how many games they can get before one of the two teams ends their lengthy championship drought.
“Fox desperately wants a seven-game series,” the TV consultant said. “Every game is tens of millions of dollars in revenue, and that’s amplified even more because of the ratings for the Cubs.”
Having the Cubs reach the World Series was the key for Fox’s ratings. Whether or not they win is almost irrelevant – for this year, at least.
“When you’ve got a major market with a massive storyline like this, that’s basically the dream for a television network,” the TV consultant said.
So wouldn’t Fox and MLB want that scenario alive next October, too?
“Look at the Red Sox; every World Series they won, the ratings got lower,” Cowherd said. “It went from like a 16 to a 12 to a 9. Let’s say the Cubs win; it would be awesome. But next year, they’ll just be a brilliantly run franchise. It’s a cool story, but it won’t play to my sister.”
The Indians haven’t won since 1948, but the country hasn’t latched onto the Tribe this month the way they have with the Cubs. Could it be that LeBron James and the Cavaliers winning it all this year has taken away some of the public’s love for the Indians?
“The LeBron story now isn’t the same. He won in Cleveland; if he never wins again, I’m satisfied as a sports fan,” Cowherd said. “The Indians have gone a long time without winning, but it doesn’t feel as painful as the Cubs. They’re not as embraceable, they’re not as loveable; maybe it’s Harry Caray, maybe it’s Wrigley Field, maybe it’s the goat.
“It’s a remarkable transcendent sports story that even non-sports fans seem to care about. Sports are at their biggest and best when more fans are in the pool.”
Or in their living rooms watching on television.
Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News