Thursday, March 30, 2006

Tigers' Skimpy TV Schedule Is Shameful And Wrong

The Tigers have taken a PR hit, and rightly so, for their rather anemic TV schedule for 2006.

As of the moment, only 112 of the 162 games are slated to be televised, and none on "free" TV -- i.e. broadcast channels in Detroit like 4, 20, 50, or 62. The 112 games are the fewest of any team in the major leagues.

Shame, shame.

My boss at MCS Magazine -- publisher Muneesh Jain -- and I were talking about this yesterday.

"There's no reason every single game shouldn't be on TV," he said, and I agreed.

The notion of "free" TV doesn't resonate as much with me, because most people have some sort of "pay TV" -- whether it's basic cable or satellite dish (I have DirecTV). But there are still some folks who can't afford pay TV, like seniors and others who are pinching pennies. So I am still cognizant of that fact. And for those people, the Tigers simply aren't accessible to them on television, and that's just plain wrong.

How the Tigers hoped to pass off a deal whereby 50 games -- nearly a third of the schedule -- weren't going to be seen except by customers with MLB Extra Innings or some other package, without any public backlash, is beyond me. Newspapermen like Lynn Henning of the Detroit News have been besieged with e-mails and letters decrying the paltry offering of Tigers baseball on television.

Henning correctly points out that the man who can change all this is Tigers owner Mike Ilitch. It would seem to me that the team can use all the positiveness it can muster, especially from their fans, who haven't seen winning baseball in 13 years. And Ilitch -- who I've praised and complimented in the past about his commitment to the city -- needs to step up to the plate, so to speak, and make something good happen here. He certainly has the power to place more games on TV, and he'd damn well better do it.

What's also distressing is the word from Fox Sports Detroit (FSD) that it was willing to televise 140 games, but that deal was somehow nixed by the Tigers. I confess to not knowing all the details of this part of the story, so I will acknowledge that I also don't know the Tigers' official stance on this. But I do know that the team is keeping mum, which sends red flags up. The last thing the Detroit Tigers need to be doing right now is to be elusive about anything that affects their shrinking fan base. Yet they aren't talking -- at least not now.

In this harried world, it's almost impossible to set aside three-plus hours of time to watch a ballgame in its entirety. But that's irrelevant. Just having the Tigers on the tube, knowing they're there if you have a moment to check out the score and maybe watch an inning or two, shouldn't be a privilege in this day and age. And for a ballclub that has been mostly putrid for more than a decade, the fans' rights should come way ahead of any perceived privilege that the team chooses to bestow upon them.

Or are the Tigers afraid of the product they'll be fielding in 2006?

Give us our Tigers baseball on TV. And let US decide whether they're worth watching. Don't make that decision for us.


Blogger Brian said...

Greg, MLB Extra Innings doesn't help, either, unless you live beyond the blackout area.

There are actually fans far beyond Michigan's borders that see the Tigers on TV more than we do.

Shameful, indeed.

11:08 PM  
Blogger Big Al said...

A top 10 media market should not have the worst TV package in baseball. Period.

11:10 AM  

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