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The WORST rated World Series EVER!!

WS Ratings Flop

The four-game sweep by the Chicago White Sox over the Houston Astros produced the lowest ratings ever for baseball's World Series. The Series, which ended with last night's 1-0 Chicago win in Houston, attracted an average of 11.1 percent of the 110.2 million U.S. households with televisions for News Corp.'s Fox, according to Nielsen Media Research Inc.

That was down 30 percent from last year, when the Boston Red Sox beat St. Louis for their first World Series championship since 1918, one year after the White Sox's previous title.

It also was 7 percent below the previous low for Major League Baseball's championship, an 11.9 for the Anaheim Angels victory over the San Francisco Giants in 2002.

Fox still topped prime-time ratings with Games 3 and 4 the past two nights. Those drew 11 percent of the audience for Game 3 and 13 percent for last night's Game 4.

"The World Series still holds up very well, because it generates higher ratings than most prime-time programs," former CBS Sports executive Jay Rosenstein said in a telephone interview.

Chicago won 11 of 12 postseason games and all six on the road. Its October success didn't produce the strong national interest the Red Sox did a year ago.

"It's very tough for a network to lose audience on both coasts, as Fox did with the White Sox and Astros," said Marc Ganis, president of the Chicago-based consulting firm SportsCorp Ltd.

Sweep

Networks prefer longer series because they can charge more money for commercials, especially in Games 6 and 7, when interest is the highest. Fox received an average $375,000 for a 30-second commercial during this year's World Series, 7 percent higher than last year, which also was a four-game sweep.

"The risk of a sweep is just part of the nature of buying rights to baseball," Ganis said.

Fox said it benefited from Game 3, a 14-inning 7-5 victory for Chicago, which lasted a World Series-record 5 hours, 41 minutes and enabled the network to sell almost a game's worth of extra ads.

Fox just completed the fifth year of a six-year, $2.5 billion contract to broadcast baseball, including both league championship series and the World Series.

Fox Sports President Ed Goren said during this season that he wants to keep baseball on the network beyond 2006. He said in an interview today that negotiations might be finished within three months.

Chicago's triumph ended the longest championship drought of any major-league baseball city. Its other team, the National League's Cubs, hasn't won the World Series since 1908. (source Bloomberg News' Allan Kreda)

The Best of Baseball is Here

The 2005 season began with a series of national TV commercials that starred fans who were chosen by Major League Baseball from among thousands of people who auditioned to show why "I Live For This." Major League Baseball had so much fun promoting the game from the perspective of fans that it has gone to the masses for another round.

Just as those spots ushered in the last Opening Day, a series of new commercials will usher in the 2005 postseason that begins Tuesday. Fans will be showcased in eight new TV commercials, featuring one fan from each postseason team.

This new campaign is an extension of the "I Live For This" Major League Baseball marketing platform and will also tie in the "October: 8 Teams, 1 Champion" postseason marketing campaign. The new commercials will run from Saturday throughout the duration of the World Series on MLB national broadcasts on FOX, and on MLB.com, and will be accompanied by a multi-million dollar media blitz on national cable networks.

As part of the production of the commercials, crews from Major League Baseball Productions visited the MLB ballparks of the teams in postseason contention. Crews traveled to 10 ballparks from Sept 24-29 and interviewed fans in the stands and outside MLB ballparks. The fans who best exuded and articulated the excitement of their teams' march toward postseason play will appear in this series of 15-second commercials promoting the arrival of the postseason and the ultimate goal of winning the 2005 World Series.

"Our fans are the most passionate and enthusiastic in all of sports, and we're very excited to once again highlight their dedication to the game in these new television commercials," said Tim Brosnan, MLB's executive vice president of business. "For a season where Major League Baseball broke its all-time attendance record, we feel there are no better spokespeople for the magic of October baseball and the allure of the Fall Classic than the fans who follow their teams day-in and day-out."

The "I Live for This" campaign was introduced in September 2003, highlighting the passion and intensity Major League Baseball players exhibit for the game of baseball. You remember Derek Jeter, Sammy Sosa, Pedro Martinez and others stating their case for why they live for this game. In a natural evolution of the campaign, Major League Baseball this year has focused its commercials on the enthusiasm and exuberance of its fans. In January, MLB began an extensive fan casting call program for a series of commercials to promote Opening Day. Six MLB teams were chosen to host open fan casting calls -- including the Angels, Astros, Cardinals, Dodgers Red Sox and Yankees -- and six separate 30-second spots highlighting fans from each team premiered in mid-March promoting the start of the season.

The "October: 8 Teams, 1 Champion" postseason marketing campaign was introduced in 2004 to highlight that any of the eight teams that advance to the MLB postseason have a chance to become World Series champions. On the field, this concept has been supported by the fact that the last three World Series champs have all been Wild Card winners: the Angels in 2002, Marlins in 2003 and Red Sox in 2004. Also part of the postseason marketing platform is "Rally Monday," which is held annually in each postseason market on the off day between the end of the regular season and the start of the postseason, and allows fans to celebrate their teams' advancement to October baseball. (source MLB.com's Mark Newman)

Shaq and The Money Game

The Miami Heat got center Shaquille O'Neal to stay in South Florida for a relative discount. This report was written by Michael Cunningham and appeared in The South Florida Sun Sentinel

In return, O'Neal got a long-term contract and a chance to play out the twilight of his career on a team that can compete for a championship.

O'Neal's agent, Perry Rogers, said O'Neal signed a five-year, $100 million contract Tuesday, hours after the NBA's moratorium on signings was lifted. The deal means O'Neal could play for the Heat until he's 38 years old.

The $20 million annual salary is more than $10 million less than O'Neal would have earned had he not opted out of the final year of the contract he signed with the Los Angeles Lakers. By accepting at least $25 million less in total money than he likely could have gotten from the Heat, O'Neal gave the team significantly greater financial flexibility.

The Heat plans to use part of that savings to acquire three-time All-Star forward Antoine Walker as part of a five-team trade that will send Ely High graduate Eddie Jones from the Heat to the Memphis Grizzlies. Even after the trade, which has been agreed to in principle, the Heat can spend its $5 million mid-level exception and still not reach the luxury tax threshold.

It all started with O'Neal's willingness to accept a reduced salary for greater security and a chance to add to the three championships he won with the Lakers.

Heat President Pat Riley has said he believes O'Neal can be productive even as he gets closer to 40, citing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's career with the Lakers.

O'Neal, who is vacationing in Rome, was not available for comment but said in a statement that the deal allows him to meet his long-term goals while providing the Heat a chance to add talent to the team.

Rogers said a representative from his office took the contract to O'Neal.

"He was ecstatic," Rogers said. "He said this was a wonderful, great day."

O'Neal came to the Heat in a trade with the Lakers last summer and made an immediate impact. The Heat won 59 games, 17 more than the previous season, reached the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 1997 and second time in its history, and came within a hairof its first trip to the NBA Finals.

There had been little question O'Neal would return to the Heat since the end of the season, which ended in a loss to the Detroit Pistons in Game 7 of the East finals.

The question was if O'Neal's hefty contract would prevent the team from making major moves.

It turns out it won't. Walker, the Boston Celtics forward, was among the top free agents who hadn't committed to a team when the moratorium was lifted; he could join O'Neal and Udonis Haslem to form a strong starting frontcourt for the Heat.

O'Neal apparently has changed his stance on contracts over the years. When forward Kevin Garnett re-signed with Minnesota for a five-year, $100 million contract extension in 2003 -- below his market value and significantly less than his previous contract -- O'Neal said he would never make similar concessions.

But he did so Tuesday, meaning he can enjoy just one more season as the highest-paid player in the league before being passed by the likes of Garnett, Chris Webber and Allan Houston. O'Neal's nemesis, former Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant, will make more than O'Neal starting in the 2008-09 season. Rogers said O'Neal directed him to strike a deal that would pay him well while still allowing the Heat to improve the team.

"He said, `I have been blessed, I have made a lot of money. Sure, I want to make sure I am paid my value but I want to make sure we are winning. This game isn't any fun if you are not winning.'" This report was written by Michael Cunningham and appeared in The South Florida Sun Sentinel

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