Less is more in the television ratings world

Tiger Woods has been receiving some criticism for saying “no one watches hockey anymore”, and any backlash he receives would be warranted, considering his sport isn’t generating blockbuster ratings. Why do we even have a golf channel? Even worse, why does my cable company provide the “golf” and “outdoor living” networks, but not the NFL network? For Woods, golf is a personal method of generating substantial amounts of money, and he would even realize that it doesn’t generate television ratings. But when we see that FOX’s “So you think you can dance” scored higher ratings than the deciding match of the Stanley Cup, Tiger has a point.

His mistake was to not group the other sports with poor ratings, including his own, to not show exclusiveness to the game played on ice. After all, in the television ratings world, by the numbers, less equals more. The fewer games played, and the shorter the playoffs, the higher the television ratings.

The NFL is always the sports ratings champ, with the Superbowl pulling the biggest prize. But second on the list of season finales is the NCAA’s BCS championship game. Is this America’s love for football or our love for fewer games played and single game elimination tournaments? Compare America’s sports based on their television appeal:

2008 Superbowl- 43 percent of households
BCS Championship game (NCAA)- 14 percent of households
NCAA Basketball championship -12 percent of households
2007 World Series- 11 percent of households
2007 Daytona 500- 10 percent of households
2007 NBA Finals- 6 percent of households
2008 Stanley Cup- 6 percent (deciding game drew a 7)

Although the numbers reflect a large gap between the first and second positions, keep in mind that the 2007 BCS championship game was down 17% from 2007, and carried a 33% share for the 2006 Rose Bowl thriller between Texas and USC. The top 3 also show America’s love for single elimination tournaments, with College hoops lagging slightly behind because of the amount of games on their schedule.

How would the Giants have faired in a 3 game series against the Patriots or Cowboys? Would they still be wearing shiny new rings? America doesn’t care, and neither do I. It’s the “sudden death” elimination that grabs our attention. Even with college football receiving a media award as the championship trophy, people tune in to watch the mighty go down today, because tomorrow never comes.

A one game elimination really doesn’t prove who the better overall team may be, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. If you work your way through a season, you better show the best preparation and execution on that one day. Baseball and Basketball give us 162 and 82 games, followed by playoff series after series. Viewers aren’t drawn to what you do in the beginning, because it’s all about what you do in the end. Less is more.

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~ by Anthony on June 8, 2008.

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