Baseball wants to hit

Series flat, but Fox eyes Yankee comeback

HOLLYWOOD — One blowout and one competitive contest have left Fox’s ratings about on par with last year through two nights of the World Series. But with the three-time defending champion Yankees returning home down 2-0 in the Series, the potential has increased for bigger numbers.

According to Nielsen overnights for Games 1 and 2 of the Fall Classic between the New York Yankees and Arizona Diamondbacks, Fox is averaging a 14.0/22 — down 4% from last year. Ratings for last year’s World Series, though, were inflated in the overnights due to such a heavy New York presence (Yankees vs. Mets), so the net will likely come out about on par or up slightly when national ratings are released today.

Fox easily topped its network competition on both nights, with Sunday’s projected primetime audience (18.5 million viewers) the net’s largest on a Sunday since Jan. 23, 2000 (football’s AFC championship).

That has helped pull Fox into third place in total viewers for the week — ahead of one of its rivals for the first time this season.

Neck-and-neck race

When Nielsen issues weekly averages today for the Oct. 22-28 frame, CBS and NBC are expected to be in a close battle for first; an Eye victory would end the Peacock’s season-opening four-week winning streak.

NBC will prevail for a fifth straight week in the key demo of adults 18-49, with Fox likely edging out CBS for second.

As for the World Series, Sunday’s Game 2, a 4-0 Arizona victory that was just 1-0 until the late innings, produced the highest overnight rating for a second game of the Series (16.1/24) in four years. This number also tops all of last year’s Mets-Yankees contests — up 6% vs. the second game a year ago (15.2/23).

Rating peaked from 10:30 to 10:45 in the East with an 18.0/28.

Saturday’s opener (won by Arizona, 9-1) earned an 11.8/20 in overnights, down 16% vs. last year’s 14.0/25 for a 12-inning nail-biter. Game went from a 13.3/23 at 9 p.m. to a 10.5/17 at 10:30 after the Diamondbacks had blown the game open.

Need to extend

As action moves to New York beginning tonight, Fox can only be hoping for the Yankees to bounce back. A victory tonight for the heavily favored Yankees would guarantee that the best-of-seven series is extended until at least a fifth game on Thursday.

Viewer interest could spike sharply if the champs are pushed to a sixth or seventh game.

Weekend’s contests produced huge numbers in Phoenix (42.8/68 on Saturday and a 54.3/73 on Sunday) and strong marks in Gotham (21.1/34 and 26.0/37). Last year in New York, with both of its teams competing, the first two games logged a massive 41.6/62 and 42.1/56.

One overnight ratings point equals 717,400 households, according to Nielsen.

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