19.5 million watch Phillies vs. Yankees

The World Series is off to a flying start for Fox, with Wednesday’s Game 1 between the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Yankees the second-highest-rated opener of the decade.

Nielsen estimates that an average audience of 19.51 million tuned in for the Fall Classic on Wednesday, a 33% surge vs. last year’s Game 1 between the Phillies and Tampa Bay (14.64 million). It saw a similar rise in adults 18-49, where this year’s 6.3 rating reps a 31% gain over last year’s 4.8.

The previous high for this postseason was last Sunday’s ALCS clincher on Fox, in which the Yankees defeated the Los Angeles Angels (5.2 rating/14 share in 18-49, 15.48m).

And among all World Series this decade, this year’s Game 1 ratings lag only the 2004 opener between Boston and St. Louis (23.17 million).

Powering this year’s gains are huge numbers in the two markets involved, which account for 9.1% of the nation’s TV households.

In New York, Game 1 averaged a 29.7 household rating/43 share in Nielsen’s metered-market overnights, higher than all six games of the last time the Yankees were in the World Series (2003). And in Philadelphia, the opener earned a 44.5/59, up 25% from last year’s 35.7/53.

Although the “Amtrak Series” pits northeastern cities whose ballparks are barely 100 miles apart, Game 1 rated well on the West Coast too. Markets in the Pacific Time Zone averaged a 10.8 household rating (vs. an 11.9 nationally), the best opener in the West since 2004.

The Fall Classic is just part of a great sports run for Fox, which last Sunday drew the largest aud ever for an NFL doubleheader (23.5 million). Day’s action was highlighted by the Minnesota-Pittsburgh and Atlanta-Dallas matchups.

And the net figures to top that this week with its doubleheader featuring primarily the New York Giants against the Philadelphia Eagles followed by the Green Bay-Minnesota matchup in which Vikings QB Brett Favre returns to Wisconsin to play against his former team for the first time.

Any big football numbers can only help baseball too, since Game 4 of the Phillies-Yankees series will follow Fox’s postgame football coverage Sunday.

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