One of the bigger pieces of news at the Fox upfronts today will be the announcement that weeknight World Series games will begin at 7:58 p.m. ET with a Saturday night game scheduled even earlier. This is good news for fans on the East Coast who complain that games go on too late and often past midnight.
USA Today’s Michael Hiestand breaks the story for today. One particular passage sticks out:
MLB is bucking a trend that sees the starting times of marquee sports events — at least for the half of U.S. TV households that are on the East Coast— creeping later into the night.
The earlier start times might seem like a no-brainer, given that baseball’s weeknight postseason games can last past midnight. But despite last year’s weather-plagued Series averaging an all-time Series ratings low of 8.4% of U.S. households, Series ratings have generally suggested that viewers don’t seem all that bothered by games ending in the wee hours: Ratings usually climb as games progress.
One suggestion to put a Saturday game on in the afternoon has fallen on deaf ears. According to Michael, Fox says an afternoon game against college football would get lower ratings.
Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal says the new start times will also apply to the American League Championship Series which Fox will carry this year.
I think this is good news. The West Coast won’t be happy about not seeing the start, but fans will still be able to join in around the 3rd inning and watch the rest of the game.