Fox isn’t rooting for either the San Francisco Giants or Texas Rangers, but the net is hoping each team wins at least two games to extend the World Series into November.
A short World Series would be disastrous for the net, which will also be competing with the NFL for at least one, and possibly two games over the next week. While ratings traditionally increase as a World Series moves forward and becomes more competitive, Fox can only ask the baseball gods that one team doesn’t become dominate and end the Series early.
“There’s a direct relationship with the number of game and overall ratings,” said Fox Sports vice chairman Ed Goren. “If we go six or seven games, we’ll get strong ratings.”
Though this World Series doesn’t include the Yankees or Phillies — New York and Philadelphia are the No. 1 and 4, respectively, media markets in the country — the Dallas/Ft. Worth market is a healthy No. 5 and the San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose area ranks as No. 6. In other words, this isn’t Tampa Bay vs. Milwaukee.
Fox may also be hurt by the ongoing stalemate with Cablevision, with millions of of the cabler provider’s customers unable to currently watch Fox programming. Goren said the affect would be “nominal,” and added, “If you’re a baseball fan, it’s unfortunate Cablevision has treated its customers this way.”
In a rare World Series vs. NFL matchup, game four of the Series will go directly up against NBC’s Halloween night Sunday football game when Pittsburgh travels to New Orleans to play the world champion Saints. The next night on ESPN, Houston visits Indianapolis.
Goren said he wasn’t concerned that baseball will get run over by football, saying the World Series would finish in the top 10 shows for the week. The NFL has been dominant, as usual, this season over all competitors. In fact, the Peacock’s “Sunday Night Football” game has been a lone bright spot for the net this fall.
Last year’s Phillies-Yankees World Series matchup averaged 19.4 million over six games, a strong improvement over the 2008 Series in which Philadelphia defeated Tampa Bay (13.6 million). The most watched World Series of the past decade came in 2004 when an average of 25.3 million watched the Boston Red Sox won their first world’s championship since 1918 over the St. Louis Cardinals.
The recently concluded National League Championship Series on Fox averaged 9.1 million viewers, the most for a NLCS since 2006 when the Cardinals defeated the Mets in seven games. TBS, which carried this year’s American League Championship Series between Texas and the Yankees, drew 8.2 million viewers, a 36% jump from a year ago.
Game 7’s are always ratings gold. In 2001, only weeks after the Sept. 11 World Trade Center attack and the country focused on all things New York, the last game of the Arizona Diamonbacks-Yankees World Series drew 39.1 million.
Also, for the first time in many years, one of the World Series games won’t begin in primetime. After long hearing the cries of fans who complained the games didn’t end past midnight in much of the country, Major League Baseball and Fox agreed game three in Texas will begin at 7 p.m. ET.