Series finale clinches gains over ’02

Game 6 up 20% in ratings, viewers vs. last year

Fox may not have gotten the seventh game it was looking for, but big ratings for the Florida Marlins’ title-clinching victory in the World Series on Saturday wrapped the net’s coverage of postseason baseball in style.

According to time-zone-adjusted preliminary nationals from Nielsen, Saturday’s Game 6 of the World Series averaged roughly a 7.6 rating in adults 18-49 and 23.2 million viewers overall — up about 20% in both vs. last year’s Game 6 between the Anaheim Angels and San Francisco Giants.

This would make it the year’s highest-rated World Series contest (although the Game 7s of both League Championship Series rated higher), and also the third most-watched Saturday night in Fox’s 17-year history.

National ratings for Saturday’s game will be issued Tuesday.

For the entire postseason, Fox was pacing 49% ahead of last year through Thursday’s Game 5 in adults 18-49 (5.8 vs. 3.9) and 39% ahead in total viewers (16 million vs. 11.5 million). Overall, it was the most-watched baseball postseason since 1995.

And in key demos, baseball’s playoffs are expected to rate 33% higher than last year in adults 18-49 (5.9 vs. 4.4) and 37% higher in men 18-34 (6.4 vs. 4.7)

Year-to-year World Series comparisons, which had been tracking roughly 15% better than last year, took a hit without a Game 7 this time around.

Still, this year’s projected six-game average of 20.1 million viewers and a 6.9 rating in adults 18-49 is about 5% ahead of last year’s seven-game World Series, and the overall audience is also larger than the 2000 New York Mets-Yankees seven-game series (18.2 million).

By comparison, this year’s World Series audience (20.1 million) was more than double the 9.9 million that the NBA Finals garnered on ABC in June and better than any NBA Finals in five years. It’s also greater than the 18.6 million that CBS drew in April for the championship game of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

Not surprisingly, Fox’s major-market affiliates to deliver the strongest ratings in the World Series were Miami-Ft. Lauderdale (38.0/55 in metered-market households) and New York (26.6/39).

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