World Series brings in 22.3 million viewers

As the New York Yankees celebrated their 27th World Series title, Fox execs were popping their own champagne after their broadcast drew the highest ratings for a Fall Classic in five years.

Wednesday’s Game 6 between the Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies registered a 7.4 rating and 20 share among adults 18-49 and 22.3 million viewers overall in primetime, bringing the series’ six-game average to 19.4 million, a 39% increase over the Tampa Bay-Philadelphia showdown a year ago.

The boost gives Fox a 2009-10 season-to-date lead in the demo with a 3.9 rating, compared to 3.2 for CBS — Fox’s biggest lead ever in this quarter and the biggest for any network in six years.

Teen viewing of the World Series increased by more than 50% compared to 2008, part of an overall resurgence for televised baseball this year. The 2009 All-Star Game in July had its most viewers in 10 years, while TBS’ broadcast of baseball’s first round of playoffs, the division series, gave the cabler its most watched primetime week ever.

Game 6 drew a 41.0 rating/57 share in Philadelphia and a 36.6/54 in New York, including 39.5/66 after 11:30 p.m. Eastern as the Yankees closed in on the final out.

This was the first six-game World Series since 2003. There hasn’t been a seven-game series since the Anaheim Angels and San Francisco Giants in 2002.

Baseball contributed to lower-than-usual scores for shows on competing networks Wednesday.

CBS opened modestly with comedies “The New Adventures of Old Christine” (2.0/6 in 18-49, 6.7 million viewers overall) and “Gary Unmarried” (2.0/5, 6.3 million) before picking up at 9 p.m. with “Criminal Minds” (3.4/9, 12.6 million). “CSI: NY” (2.8/8, 12.0 million) was also the top non-sports choice at 10 p.m. but was off noticeably from its averages.

ABC began the night with a fifth-place demo finish for “Hank” (1.3/4, 5.1 million) before rising at 8:30 p.m. with “The Middle” (1.9/5, 6.0 million). The net then took an even bigger leap at 9 p.m. with “Modern Family” (3.5/9, 8.8 million), which held up pretty well opposite baseball, but then dipped at 9:30 p.m. as “Cougar Town” hit a series low (2.8/7, 6.9 million). “Eastwick” (1.5/4, 4.4 million) wrapped up the Alphabet’s night.

NBC was a bit on the down side with each of its shows, starting with “Mercy” (1.7/5, 6.6 million). The net’s best numbers came at 9 p.m. with “Law and Order: SVU” (2.4/6, 8.0 million) but it then dropped sharply at 10 p.m. with “The Jay Leno Show” (1.4/4, 4.8 million).

CW’s “America’s Next Top Model” (1.7/5, 3.9 million) continues to pick up ratings steam as it nears its finale, tying for third in the 8 o’clock hour in 18-49. It was followed by a special repeat of “The Vampire Diaries” (0.7/2, 1.4 million).

(Rick Kissell contributed to this report.)

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