Rain delay cuts into audience for Game 3

Fox can’t catch a break with this year’s World Series, with Saturday’s lengthy rain delay significantly cutting into the audience for Game 3.

Once the tarps were removed from the field and action began, it was about 10 p.m. in the East. And the lengthy game — won by the Philadelphia Phillies, 5-4 — didn’t end until about 1:45 a.m. on Sunday.

Result was that an average estimated audience of 9.8 million watched the game, making it among the least-watched World Series contests on record, according to preliminary Nielsen estimates. This Fall Classic was already off to a slow start, with the opening two games averaging 13.7 million viewers — good by today’s primetime standards, but off nearly 20% from last year.

About the best Fox can hope for at this point is that the competitive series is stretched to the maximum seven games. If that happens, the net could score a nice ratings haul on the opening night of the November sweep.

Saturday’s game still drew huge numbers in the home markets, even though both are in the East, where the sixth inning began after midnight. According to Nielsen’s metered markets, it averaged a 28.2 household rating/49 share in Philadelphia and a 21.6/44 in Tampa-St. Petersburg.

The game’s national average was a mere 7.0/14, however, with many Eastern markets delivering lower-than-usual scores due to the late hour. Not surprisingly, some Western markets (where the game started at 7 p.m.) fared reasonably well: Seattle (9.7/19), San Francisco (9.2/20) and Los Angeles (7.9/15) were all above average.

ABC appeared to be a beneficiary of the baseball rain delay, as its “Saturday Night Football” college matchup between Penn State and Ohio State scored better than expected.

That game, a matchup of top-10 teams that figured to score well regardless of the World Series delay, likely will stand as the night’s top program in both demos and overall audience (more than 10 million viewers), earning the franchise’s best scores since the start of the television season.

In latenight, NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” averaged a 7.1/18 in Nielsen’s metered-market households, a 73% increase over the show’s average for originals in October of last year. The edition, hosted by “Mad Men” star Jon Hamm, came in below recent episodes, though, as the show has been on a hot streak of late.

Of note on Thursday was another CBS victory, courtesy of timeslot victories by “Survivor” (4.4/12 in 18-49, 13.31m) and “CSI” (5.5/13, 19.49m). CSI edged ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” (5.4/13, 14.45m) and also beat out the World Series.

Surprisingly, ABC’s young-female magnet “Grey’s Anatomy” was down opposite baseball, while CBS’ older and more male “CSI” was up.

At 10, NBC vet “ER” (3.2/8 in 18-49, 8.82m) and CBS rookie “Eleventh Hour” (3.1/8, 11.85m) were in a tight battle for second to baseball, while ABC’s “Life on Mars” (2.4/6, 7.86m) was down a tick from the previous week to finish well behind the pack.

In the night’s opening hour, NBC’s 8:30 entry “Kath & Kim” (2.2/6 in 18-49, 4.99m) was down for a second straight week following its solid debut. ABC’s “Ugly Betty” (2.8/8, 8.70m) was up slightly, posting best-since-premiere scores.

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