Series on record-low pace

NEW YORK — Confirming fears of top NBC execs, this year’s World Series is comfortably on track to become the lowest-rated ever.

Through five games of the matchup between the Cleveland Indians and the Florida Marlins, NBC has scored a cumulative 15.0 household rating and a 26 share, with Thursday’s Game 5 result — a record-low 17.2/30 — factored in.

Saturday’s Game 6 earned a 16.9/29 average in the 38 metered markets, with national numbers due on Tuesday. Game 7 was played Sunday night.

The previous record-low average for the first five games of the series was a 17.1, earned both in 1993 (Toronto-Philadelphia) and last year, when the New York Yankees and Atlanta Braves were expected to ignite more major-market interest with Fox Broadcasting’s first fall classic.

A little surprising

“I think it’s a little surprising,” said BJK&E Media Group senior partner Steve Sternberg of the latest result. And while the steady slide of baseball ratings won’t hurt demand for the series — still one of a very few high-rated sports events — the weak showing will depress ad rates.

“When (buyers) evaluate it next year they will be using this year’s numbers,” Sternberg said.

Thursday’s rating was off 16% in households from NBC’s 20.5/33 four-week average for the night in the first four weeks of the primetime season. More significantly, ad revenues were substantially below those fetched by NBC’s top shows.

That explains West Coast prexy Don Ohlmeyer’s wish that the series go “four and out,” for which he later apologized to league officials. Still, the Peacock comfortably won the night, as usual, and other webs gained very modestly, if at all, from the absence of NBC’s powerhouse lineup.

ABC’s “Nothing Sacred,” the subject of a major ad blitz in Thursday newspapers, earned a 5.1/8, slightly below its season average. Although it improved over a dismal 4.4/7 the prior week, the controversial drama was a distant fourth-place competitor in all major demos.

CBS’ “48 Hours,” which has badly trailed new newsmag competitor “20/20” on the night, posted its first victory over the ABC rival on Thursday, earning a 9.2/16 to “20/20’s” 7.8/13. The result was well-timed: CBS Entertainment was growing impatient with results for “48” and “Public Eye With Bryant Gumbel” on Wednesdays.

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