How long before Kleenex sponsors John Sterling’s Blown Home Run Call Of The Game? In the opinion of consumer advocate Ralph Nader, Yankees radio broadcasts have already gone too far ; such contrivances “have become a significant part of the broadcast.” From the New York Times’ Richard Sandomir ;
In a letter Friday to team executives Randy Levine and Brian Cashman, Nader listed 22 in-game ads that ran during the June 1 Yankees-Tigers game; he said they served to “disrupt the flow and excitement of the game broadcast and undermine your responsibilities as a guardian of the national pastime.”
WCBS is paying the Yankees $14 million this year to carry the Yankees, which puts pressure on the station to find advertising revenue in every nook of its broadcasts. The in-game ads are nothing new and have become almost de rigueur on radio and television sportscasts.
“It is always a surprise who tries to grab some publicity around a Subway Series,” the Yankees said in a statement. “The Yankees always strive to have exciting broadcasts but the production and ad placements are done by WCBS Radio.”
Nader cited ads that sponsored the pitching matchup (Chock Full o’ Nuts), pitch count (5-hour Energy), rally moment of the game (Rally BMW), game-time temperature (Peerless Boilers), national anthem (Mutual of America Life Insurance), call to the bullpen (Honda) and 15th out of the game (Geico).
Most of the ads, not surprisingly, strained to make a connection with the action on the field.
“Have you no boundaries or sense of restraint?” Nader wrote, in his position as the founder of the sports advocacy group League of Fans. “Have you no mercy on your play-calling broadcasters?”
Nader recalled growing up in Connecticut listening to Mel Allen call Yankee games “when the commercials were reserved for the commercial breaks—between half-innings.”
In defense of the Yankees and WCBS (yes, I’m actually writing those words), Mel Allen’s Yankee tenure during Nadar’s childhood ended in 1964. There have been no shortage of new developments in the commercial broadcasting world since, including but not limited to (as Sandomir points out), sports rights fees going thru the roof.