It’s true that the Orioles haven’t been playing well of late…or for the last fourteen years. But is that part of the reason why local television late news has decided to shrink the amount of time devoted to sports?
I don’t believe it is, or at least the main cause. The main cause, if anything is that ESPN has grown in the last 30-plus years to become the sports information behemoth where most people get their sports news non-stop 24/7. There are other factors as well: the plethora of other sources where people can get news about their favorite teams and sports in general: the internet, newspapers, mobile phones, tablets etc. And the shrinking of local late night sportscasts is hardly just a local trend-evidence can be found nationwide. But in an article in the Baltimore Sun, Scott Garceau-formerly of WMAR TV-2 and now of WJZ-FM (105.7 The Fan)-suggests in a way that the type of sports community the Baltimore area is may play its part:
Garceau, who now says he “wouldn’t want to go back there” to TV sports, wonders if maybe the cutback in late sports in Baltimore TV also says something about the “sports community” here.
“With Channel 2 kind of out of the sports biz, and you say other people are cutting back, maybe this says a little bit about our sports community, too, that we’re not a sports town like some other places,” Garceau says.
“I’m not sure in Boston if they could do this with what the Celtics and Bruins and the Red Sox and the Patriots mean to people up there. We’ve almost been reduced to a one sports town. I still think it’s a good baseball town, but the Orioles haven’t given us anything in 14 years and maybe that allows the stations to say, ‘Hey, we’re not going to do sports at 11 o’clock.’”
I would like to say that the Orioles mean as much as the Red Sox do to Boston. But very few people are rushing home and waiting through a half-hour (or an hour on WBFF-TV 45) broadcast just to get to the latest Oriole lowlights. But maybe Garceau has a point. With the Orioles struggles, perhaps Baltimore has become a one-sport town. And that situation may have a bearing on just how much time a station feels is worth spending on what now is a niche in the local broadcast.
And with SportsCenter on usually at 11:00, and ESPNEWS on around the clock, with way more time than a local station can give on all the pertinent sports news of the day, perhaps local stations are ceding that ground to the beast from Bristol-in order to concentrate on making the late local news as community focused as possible-except for the sports segment.