New England Sports Network is under heavy fire these days. The Boston Red Sox are currently fielding one of the most despised teams on and off the field since 2012 and ratings are down 20% across the board. Why is that? There are many logical reasons for the declining ratings including pace of play, the lack of production on the field and the fact games start way too late.
NESN also has another problem, it doesn’t have a damned clue who its core audience is. Case in point today, its commercial. No, not the Southwest commercial that runs 128 times during the course of the day that leaves the audience wanting to bludgeon everyone involved in the making of it repeatedly with a frozen trout. THIS commercial:
Where do I begin with this abortion? First of all the point of it is if you can’t watch the game live in front of a TV, you can stream it on your phone. Wonderful, sounds good right? Unfortunately there are a few problems.
First of all the video clip they used is from Hanley Ramirez‘ walk-off home run off the New York Yankees last September. The commercial is depicting people watching in a daytime setting which is bizarre considering the game ended past 11 at night. So there’s strike one. Now if you want to counter and say “Well they’re just watching the highlights the next day because they missed it” then we have bigger issues. Look closely at the people depicted in this commercial. We got a pinhead in a suit at Logan Airport, a single mom and 3 daughters waiting on their tires to be rotated, a desk clerk at a proctocology office and some maniacal lady in a dentist’s chair……..what?
Do people working at NESN have a clue as to who their audience is? You know who’s watching baseball games? Tommy, Chuckie, Kevin, Sully, Murph and Stevie. The guys at the bar going “WHAT THE HELL MOOKIE, STOP POPPING UP ON PITCHES ON THE OUTSIDE CORNA!” The ones on the street saying “You catch the game last night?” “Oh yeah, Sale had a one hitta’ goin’ through seven!” The ones calling into WEEI 93.7 or Sports Hub 98.5 screaming about how useless Pablo Sandoval is. The guys working construction listening to the radio and saying “THROW STRIKES PRICE!” THAT is your core audience, NESN. I don’t know who the people in the commercial are, but that’s a pretty lousy representation of who’s actually watching baseball games. There’s strike two.
Then the worst part about the commercial is itself. The people listed earlier screaming “Go Red Sox. GOOOOOOOO!!!!” make the rest of us look like morons. Who does that? Who sits at Sullivan Tire or in a dentist’s chair screaming gooooooooooo at their phone? I don’t remember Yankee or Toronto Blue Jays fans screaming into their phones over day old highlights. What would have been better television is the aftermath where security pounces on the pinhead in the suit or the manager of Sullivan Tire telling the screaming lady and the kids to get the hell out of there before they call the cops. At least that would have been somewhat funny the first time you see it (before they replay it eleventeen times during the course of the game). So for making the rest of us real fans look bad, that’s strike three….YERRRR OUT!
The bottom line is ratings are down 20% for a variety of reasons mostly having to do with the game itself. NESN’s problem is that the pink hats are gone. Following the 2004 World Series win it became trendy to watch the Red Sox. The ’04 team was everywhere from Queer Eye For The Straight Guy (Doug Mirabelli wants to strangle his agent to this day for putting him in it) to the god awful reality show Sox Appeal, cashing in after the 86 year championship drought ended. The term “pink hat” became a term to describe the incoming bandwagon fan hot off the Yankees wagon and because it was trendy. As the years went by and more World Series titles were won, the pink hats stayed……until recently. Finishing in last place 3 out of 4 years pretty much killed the trend and even though the team on the field in 2016 were fun to watch, the casual crowd was gone. NESN has been trying desperately to get the casual fan back that they make promotions specifically designed to cater to a crowd that’s not there. This NESNGo commercial depicts Red Sox fans in such a bad light that its embarrassing to be a Sox fan. You know what we have to go through? Its bad enough we have to stay up for 10 PM start times, listen to Guerin Austin flap her gums about things we either already know or really don’t care about, watch the Southwest commercial 3,000 times during the broadcast, watch David Price take 35 minutes in between pitches and the offense swing at air against mediocre pitchers for 4 hours….but this commercial makes it even worse.
Hey NESN, you want the casual fan back? Put a world championship winning team on the field. Get guys that an actually hit the ball out of the yard and starting pitchers that care more about getting the next guy out then attacking the color commentator. Have a bullpen that doesn’t vomit up their intestines in crucial situations and maybe, just maybe, that 20% will return. Until then, stop insulting our intelligence by making commercials designed for people that aren’t going to be watching and making us look like fools in the process.
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