There is occasionally talk about the FOX Saturday Baseball broadcasts being the “big stage” for baseball teams. Often, that’s true. If there is one huge national game on FOX, or even splitting the nation to two or three games, the broadcast is available to more people than just the regional cable broadcasts.
But for Saturday’s Pirates-Royals game, being on the FOX broadcast actually reduces the broadcast territory.
First, let’s look at the Pirates broadcast map for games aired on the ROOT Sports cable channel.
The important point here is that Pirates games on ROOT Sports are available throughout much of Pennsylvania and West Virginia. So what territory will be able to watch Saturday night’s Pirates-Royals game on FOX?
While the FOX broadcast gains a little larger chunk of Ohio, much of West Virginia (and Erie, Pa. area) is lost to Indians-Cardinals and most of eastern Pennsylvania instead gets Mets-Yankees. That has to be a net loss of viewership area for Pirates fans.
What about for Royals fans in the Midwest? The team’s website says most games are “available in Kansas City, Kansas, western and central Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, Arkansas and Oklahoma.” That is a healthy dose of area. So how much of that will get to see Saturday night’s game?
Most of Kansas gets to keep the Royals broadcast, as does a good bit of Nebraska. But it seems like a lot of Missouri is lost, and forget about Arkansas, Oklahoma and Iowa.
So it seems to my eye that being one of the FOX “national” games drastically reduces the number of people who can watch Saturday’s Pirates-Royals game. No one outside of those pictures above will be able to watch the game. And we haven’t even touched the fact that people who normally watch Pirates or Royals games on MLB.tv are plum out of luck.
There is a rumor, I don’t know how much truth there is to it, that the Pirates could have moved the game back to 4:10 pm ET to air on the regular cable channels. But pushing back the game three hours would inconvenience the sellout crowd who bought tickets to the game/Boys II Men postgame concert. So 7:15 ET on FOX it shall be, no matter how much the FOX broadcast map limits viewership.
MLB and FOX, frustrating baseball fans together since 1996.