Major League Baseball announced World Series telecasts on Fox this fall will start at least 30 minutes earlier than previous years in an attempt to avoid ninth innings that finish after bedtimes on the East Coast.
Pregame shows will begin at 7:30 p.m. Eastern, with the first pitch of each game coming before 8 p.m. — marking the first weekday World Series games starting before primetime in more than 30 years, according to MLB.com. Last year’s World Series started at 8:30 ET or later and averaged three hours and 16 minutes.
While the change, which also applies to Fox’s coverage of the American League Championship Series, will make it tougher for West Coast viewers to see early innings, it does make it more likely that the Fall Classic will end in primetime across the country. Fox, however, demurred on a proposal to reinstitute daytime World Series games on weekends.
“It certainly was considered,” Fox Sports president Ed Goren told MLB.com, “and commissioner (Bud Selig) has certainly expressed his interest in it. But it gets back to economics: What I do know, from our research people, is that if we played Saturday afternoon, viewership would be 30% lower, and there would be an economic impact to that.”
Because of scheduling delays brought about by the World Baseball Classic in March, the 2009 World Series is tentatively scheduled to begin Oct. 28, its latest starting date ever.