World Series Ratings Off to Worst Start on Record

Giants Royals World Series Ratings

The Kansas City Royals were a great story in baseball this year, but as a team with little star power that hails from a small market, their surprise run to face the San Francisco Giants in the World Series may not be resonating with more casual sports fans.

Fox attracted a still-sizable audience to Game 1 of the Fall Classic on Tuesday — 12.2 million — but this left it tied with the 2012 Texas-San Francisco opener, which previously had been the smallest audience to kick things off. Last year’s World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox averaged about 15 million, jumping 23% from 2012.

And in the adults 18-49 demo, Tuesday’s game did a 3.4 rating to win the night for Fox. This was down 19% from last year (4.2) and 6% from 2012 (3.6) for a new low.

(By comparison, the NBA Finals averaged a 6.0 demo rating and 14.9 million total viewers on ABC for Game 1 of its series between San Antonio and Miami in June.)

The World Series opener did a huge 48.2 overnight household rating in Kansas City and a 29.3 in the Bay Area, but this meant that the two markets involved accounted for 12.6% (or about 1 in 8) of U.S. homes tuning in — a much higher percentage than seen with teams in the playoffs of the NFL or NBA, both of which enjoy broader viewer interest across the country. Kansas City and the Bay Area make up only about 3% of the country’s TV homes.

It didn’t help that the game seemed over almost from the start, with the visiting Giants scoring three runs in the top of the first inning en route to a comfortable 7-1 victory behind dominant pitcher Madison Bumgarner. Viewership was under 9 million for the final inning.

Major League Baseball didn’t exactly ride into the World Series with ratings momentum.

The best-of-seven League Championship Series were both quick (one ended in four games, the other in five) and low-rated (the most-watched contest was Game 3 of the ALCS on TBS with about 6 million viewers).

Fox can hope that more competitive games and a more sensible World Series schedule — one that minimizes head-to-head showdowns with the ratings-heavyweight NFL — will help it as the series progresses.

Under the old format, as many as four World Series games could be played against the primetime NFL games on Monday, Thursday and Sunday. Now, though, only one game is scheduled to face the NFL (Game 5 opposite NBC’s “Sunday Night Football”).

Game 2 is set for tonight in Kansas City on Fox.

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  1. David says:

    I’m not sure about everyone else but I simply can’t find it! I put it into my guide and it gives me a channel ,I go to that channel and something else is on, so I watch something else.

  2. Bob says:

    Reynolds is infatuated with the Royals. Buck is an idiot. What a team! Ratings are always low when you don’t have an east coast team in the series because they are starting the games too late. It’s midnight by the time the games end plus the general lack of interest because of no Yankees or Boston, etc. Wild Cards or not, the two best “Baseball Teams” this year are indeed in the series, period, end of story.

  3. Jason P says:

    Fox could care less what team is in the series as long as it’s a national league team!! Fox, there has to be. A national league team or it wouldn’t be the “World Series”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! No reason to keep dropping to your knees fox!!!

  4. Jason P says:

    Has anyone looked at the commentators as the cause???? Joe buck is the worst!!!!

  5. Bob says:

    I never thought I will hear a broadcaster worse than Joe Buck, but Harold Reynolds is unbelievably now the worst I’ve ever heard. The two together are really pathetic. No wonder the ratings are so lousy. I have a delay with the am radio broadcast but still listen to it to avoid Buck and Reynolds. They are the Fox News of sports broadcasting, slanting everything towards the Royals as Fox News slants everything it does in favor of the Republicans and the far right. Really annoying. Fair and balanced my rear.

  6. Everyone always wants to blame the teams or the markets for such ratings… I had to turn off the TV to save myself from the abysmal broadcasting that is Joe Buck.

  7. markpower49 says:

    All pro sports are boring and inane. Stop worshiping athletes and get a life.

  8. Pablo Hablo says:

    I don’t hate baseball, just the American League with its anti-baseball designated hitter. I lose track in the postseason when all the games are on paid stations- it didn’t used to be this way. When the Series starts, I’ve completely lost track, & lost interest.

  9. Bobby Bobertson says:

    I missed all televised playoff games, never was sure when they were on and what station. It’s difficult to get excited for a series when you don’t get to watch the playoffs. One or two of the better games (st louis vs la) should have made primetime on Fox.

  10. Morphy Smith says:

    I am a baseball fan but could care less about two Wildcard teams playing.
    as worthless as when the NY Giants won the SB with a 9-7 record. pathetic.

  11. mark simons says:

    Maybe if they dropped JOE BUCK and got a less irritating announcer

  12. Brian says:

    Baseball is one of the last respectable sports. Few other professional sports have athlete’s that can serve as role models. The NFL and NBA are almost total garbage. You have to look much harder for a scumbag in baseball.

  13. the truth says:

    Whats this baseball?

    Go Chargers!!!!!

  14. carlb says:

    baseball for all intent and purpose is a dying sport. they killed themselves because of greed. while the nfl, nba and nhl and in the future dare i say it soccer will beat the mlb. your own article proved it. unless it’s one of the over spending teams nobody watches it. teams like kansas city, the a’s and the rays and marlins the small market teams are just farm teams for the big ones like ny,boston, la chicago. until the mlb goes to a honest revenue sharing type format like the nfl and nba have they just will continue to slide into oblivion.

    • CT says:

      Right – no players in the NBA or NFL are greedy at all. There’s nothing wrong with baseball except that it’s one of those sports where you actually have to understand the the game and think about what’s going on to enjoy it. Too much work for a lot of folks, I guess.

  15. The Old Ranger says:

    Once upon a time, the World Series was an exhibition of excellence. The best teams in each league, as demonstrated by a record of accomplishment over a full season of play, battled for the World Championship of Baseball. Today, we have two teams who won nothing during the regular baseball season playing in the World Series. The one time celebration of excellence has become, like so much else in the United States, nothing more than a tribute to the triumph of mediocrity.

  16. AnyoneButObama says:

    No one cares about baseball anymore. We’re tired of watching sports figures making millions no matter if the win or lose. They need to start paying athletes only if they win, like golf or tennis. They could still make big money except they need to win to get it.

    Give everyone the same salary and then negotiate on how much each player gets for each win. A loss gets them the same base salary as the rest of the TEAM. Same could work for football, soccer and other team sports. I’m sick of some QB get 15 million (Eli Manning, for instance) and play like crap.

  17. Avid Reader says:

    Let’s see. A #4 seed playing .549 ball and a #5 seed playing .543 ball manage to string together four good games and are now vying for the championship. Who cares? The benefits and joys of the “long season” have been sold out for an extended window on television and now you have two teams which barely managed to pass the .500 mark in the Series. Tell me how playoff ball is good for baseball? Last year the best records in the AL and the NL met for the Series, as it should be, and people cared.

  18. Pouty McPouterson says:

    MLB is picking the winners and losers by having umpires with questionable strike zones. If you just pay attention, it is easy to see. Americans are stupid but they aren’t THAT stupid. People tune out when they know the fix is in. Case in point: NASCAR is DEAD for the same reason.

    • Bobby Bobertson says:

      Same goes for the NFL btw. It’s easy to do, just have an overly complex penalty system the NFL can use to prop up the team they want to win, or at the least, keep games close for advertising purposes. One day it will come out that pro sports are closer to ‘pro’ wrestling than sport.

  19. Chipgiii says:

    The season is simply too long. Baseball needs to finish by the end of September, first week of October at the latest. This time of the year most multi sport fans have switched to Football….

  20. I simply refuse to watch anything that the King of Nepotism, Joe Buck, is involved with. The man is a complete idiot whose only accomplishment is life is being born the son of a legend Jack Buck. Heck I won’t even watch Sunday Football on Fox if Buck is a commentator. I just listen to the World Series on radio

  21. Dan says:

    George Will said something on a news show two weeks ago about baseball being America’s game” or some such nonsense. Not anymore.

  22. I thought it was nice to have a small market team play a “civilized” bay area team, less hype, less rudeness, until the Giants pitcher came unglued and showed who they really are. Go Royals!

  23. dammit says:

    Let’s see. One team from a city most Americans despise and the other from a city that most Americans can’t find on a map. Ratings slump? You should be grateful for anyone who tunes in.

    • Rp says:

      Where did you get the information about “most Americans despise” San Francisco?” You may despise it, for whatever reason, but it’s funny that you project yourself as “most Americans.”

  24. kcsparky says:

    Awwww……No “Big Market” teams available? No Boston, no NY…….poor babies. Boston finished at the bottom of the bucket, get over it! KC earned it and is fighting hard, playing really good baseball. Enjoy or Shut Thy Hole!!!

  25. Marilynn says:

    I think baseball is in it’s dying days. It is too slow for the me-me generation. They only want to stare at a black box in their hand.

    • bob says:

      Cuz staring at grown men hit a ball with a stick for 4 hours is better right??? Great observation from the “i worry about everything/everyone except my own life generation”

  26. rytwinger says:

    There’s a world series?

  27. Nidler Dordler says:

    I’m not watching the WS because I despise the inhabitants who have befouled the beautiful city by the bay. I’m hoping like hell that KC beat the crap out of the Giants, but won’t be tuning in, just in case the Giants do win.

  28. marke says:

    October is the middle of football season and attention is focused there. If baseball is concerned about ratings, they would shave about 30 games off the regular season schedule and begin the playoffs at the beginning of September. Fans in attendance would also benefit by not having to sit through a game in a cold-weather city in October.

  29. Ryan Flick says:

    Baseball has done it’s fans a serious disservice by putting all their games on cable tv including all the playoff series! What the hell is FS1 anyways? Why did America’s former favorite pastime end up on this station with some of the worst announcing/broadcasting in all of sports? MLB has so much money they don’t care about ratings, but ten years from now, the sport will be in ruin. With 4 hour snoozefests, outrageous ticket/concession prices/, cable only viewing, dwindling younger fan base, most stadiums are 25% full on any given night, and outrageous salaries, how can it continue?

    • dammit says:

      Baseball is preparing for the new demographic. Those that can’t afford to go to a game but want to see their favorite Dominican players anyway.

    • azbirl says:

      Due to the bad economy, many of us gave up cable TV and can’t afford to attend games. We don’t read local print newspapers anymore, and I’m out of touch with baseball. I used to look for it on broadcast TV but the games were always on cable. So I haven’t seen a game in years and I used to watch it all the time.

    • Jack Frost says:

      The game was on the main FOX channel in my area, not FS1. But you are right about the broadcasting being bad, with Droopy Joe Buck carrying the load. On the other hand, you are wrong predicting the demise of the sport. A good article called “The Dead Ball Century” describes how pundits and “experts” have been predicting that baseball would die out ever since post-Civil War days. They have always been wrong. The article can be found at grantland_dot_com.

      • Miggy says:

        I love baseball but am disgusted they opened Americas Pastime is Australia this year. Social engineering is taking over sports, just ask the NFL.

  30. Dj says:

    Of course they are terrible ratings… There’s a mid-west vs.west coast team matchup.

    Broadcast HATES all west coast teams. they figure if it’s not Yankees vs. red sox why watch?

  31. Rob says:

    When you put the bulk of the playoffs on cable television, how is it surprising that ratings are dropping…less people are invested in the teams…I just don’t understand how the big sports leagues get the idea that putting all the games on cable will increase viewership. The NFL has the bulk of their games on network television, and they’re killing it in ratings…wake up MLB, people want their sports on broadcast networks…

  32. Dick Sicario says:

    Very boring sport to watch !
    Average joe with 2 kids can no longer afford to take them to a game.
    Players are no longer roll models
    End Of Game

  33. Will Barrett says:

    2012 Texas-San Francisco opener was previously the smallest audience to kick things off? Of course it was – the audience for that one was zero because Texas didn’t play SF in 2012. They played them in 2010.

  34. Stan Makowski says:

    The whole event is a continuous commercial occasionally interrupted by half an inning of baseball and more commercials. There is a law of diminishing returns and the WS has passed it. Don’t these suits understand that by having so many, that the tendency is to mentally block out all.

  35. mike says:

    Baseball is absurdly boring. I don’t know how anyone can sit through a game. It’s cool for kids, but crazy boring for adults. It’s the same thing over and over.

  36. Jane says:

    As an avid baseball fan, I have decided to turn the sound off my TV because the Fox Sports broadcast group are so boring and don’t even seen to be interested or qualified to call the game!

  37. The sage from South Norfolk says:

    The coverage on Fox Sports is terrible. Where is the Ball/Strike box? Are they protecting the umpires? Nobody wants to hear the drivel of a bunch of washed up has beens and “never was” commemorators trash the Kansas City Royals. According to these “know it all’s” the Royals don’t deserve to be here in the first place, regardless of the fact that they won 8 post season games in a row to get here; That’s never been done before, by the way!!!

    • Ryan Flick says:

      Excuse me, The Colorado Rockies did it in 2007. And the broadcasters have been loving the Royals to a fault. Why would anyone have high expectations for a team that hasn’t done anything since the late 80s? Good for them, but they are the underdog.

    • Gabriel says:

      You are kidding right? They ‘ve been blowing the Royals horn for days. It’s sickening.

    • Gabriel says:

      Boo hop no east coast teams in the series so now we hear the crying about ratings. NEWS FLASH: The ballplayers are playing for a championship….They don’t care if New York, Chicago or LA watch or not.

  38. cristo says:

    Across the board TV viewing is down because Americans no longer trust what come out of the box.

  39. Golfendude says:

    Thanks for reminding me, I just turned it on.. Top of the 7th and KC has 7 SF 2 GO KC

  40. Richard N. Miela says:

    The two most boring teams in pro sports. Yawn.

  41. Orville says:

    After all the scandals, does ANYONE really care about professional sports?

    • sbourg says:

      Very good point……..and the answer is……..you’re right, ALOT FEWER ! Especially when baseball playoff games are going 3.5 – 4.5 hours per game. Horrifically slow

  42. The Royals have the 3rd smallest market in baseball (2nd smallest city) – what do you expect?

    • Tim says:

      They should have a 10 or 15 second clock too between pitches, its ridicules to sit and watch a batter for 5 minutes take 3 swings.

  43. John T. says:

    The NBA is eight guys standing around watching two guys play one-on-one.
    The National Felon League is well….you get my point.
    The NHL has too much fighting and turns off a lot of families; plus it’s very hard to watch on TV.
    Soccer? Ha!

    I love me some baseball, though. Less drunk fans than an NFL game. Just needs more offense.

  44. Bill Rice says:

    As a 10 year old child I 1975, I could name most of the starting lineups for the Reds, Dodgers, Red Sox, A d Yankees. As I grew older, I routinely watched and pulled for our regional team, the Braves. Now at age 49, I bet it’s been four years since I watched an entire pro baseball game. I couldn’t name one player on most teams. I’m about becoming same way with NFL. Only sport I am still passionate about is college football. I still think college football programming is THE key to ESPN’s success. The depth of passion for this sport is so much greater. MLB has bad issues that aren’t getting better. Game attendance, measured by actual fannies in bleachers, is probably much lower than reported. Same with NFL and NBA.

    • John T. says:

      “Game attendance, measured by actual fannies in bleachers, is probably much lower than reported”

      Nope. Baseball attendance goes up every year. Still the most attended sports league in the world:

      (2013)
      Major League Baseball 74,026,895
      Nippon Professional Baseball 22,047,491
      National Hockey League 21,470,155
      National Basketball Association 21,411,543
      National Football League 17,510,569
      Premier League England 13,929,810

  45. John T. says:

    12 million seems pretty good to me. If it goes 7 games at that pace, that’s still a total of 84 million.

    Baseball is still the most attended sports league in the world. Over 75 million people attend MLB games every year, no other league in the world even cracks 25 million people.

    Baseball does need to become more offensively-minded if it wants to compete with football and basketball. They could do so by lowering the mounds a bit, cutting back on warm-up pitches, and most importantly of all…widen the strike zone; this would force hitters to swing more, putting the ball in play and giving this league some much needed offense!

  46. Andy nash says:

    Giants fan since I could walk. They are anything but boring. I love baseball because it isn’t full of trash talking shuck and jive trash talking tattooed thugs.

  47. David Gurney says:

    The baseball viewers spend their money on products which are advertised.The basketball people spend their(our) money on bling,drugs,cigarettes,and hard liquor.

  48. Master Blaster says:

    Suck it Hunter Pence you goofball.

  49. Katie says:

    It was a rocking great time last night – been a fan of the game since 1959. You’all can keep your NBA and nonsense stuff. Hummmm babies!

  50. JSB says:

    Well, you kids need to read history as long as you don’t watch baseball. The World Series has ALWAYS been in October, got that? If you won’t like baseball, don’t watch. And while you’re at it, pour yourselves a nice-tall-cool glass of STFU. No one like a childish whiner. Sheesh. This is as infantile as complaining about the end of “The Sopranos”.

    These playoffs have been spectacular for anyone who loves baseball. Nailbiters, long innings, one-run victories. And my team didn’t even make them. If you don’t care – move on.

    • Scott says:

      Great comment! Playoffs were great and my team did not make it to even wild card. Baseball isn’t like any other game, that is why we love it.

    • Richard N Gould says:

      Given the fact that all networks broadcasting baseball today are completely incompetent, what’s the surprise? Close-ups of the pitcher’s nostril hair, switch to the batter adjusting his gloves, a crowd close-up of a stupid hat and/or make-up, a quick shot over the pitcher’s right shoulder making the pitch. . .that’s baseball broadcasting today. In a complete game a viewer will probably only get to see one or two shots THE ENTIRE GAME of the entire field while the pitch is being made, thusly being able to see where the players and base runners are positioned and reacting. The single static shot behind the plate 50s broadcasting shot would be better than the current approach by a factor of 10. The networks are killing baseball with their incompetence. Fox is probably the worst. At least they got rid of Joe Morgan. Did they get rid of Joe Morgan? He never said anything that wasn’t completely obvious or completely false. You heard it here first.
      I remain, as always,
      Disgusted in Soho
      RICHARD NASH GOULD
      141 Wooster Street
      New York City 10012
      212 473-1290 O

      • Scott says:

        Yeah, they did get rid of the caustic know it all Joe Morgan. I agree with much of your comment. I do like Mr. Reynolds. He has a great attitude, loves the game and played the game.

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