World Series a downer for Fox


Lacking a national following for either team in this year’s World Series, the Nielsen ratings have been down from a year ago for the Philadelphia Phillies – Tampa Bay Rays matchup. The rain-delayed game three on Saturday set a record low, but game four on Sunday was an improvement. Still, it looks like the 2008 World Series will set a record for Fox – record low ratings.

With a long rain delay pushing the first pitch beyond 10 pm ET, Saturday’s game three didn’t end until Sunday morning, 1:47 am. That produced a record low rating of 6.1 for a World Series, well below the previous low mark of 8.0 in 2006.

It didn’t get much better with game four on Sunday night, despite the NFL taking the week off on NBC. The Nielsen overnights put the game’s rating at 9.3 for Households, the best showing yet for this year’s World Series. But despite leading the network to a win for the night, ratings through four games trail the same point a year ago by 25%.

According to Fox, the first four games of the 2008 World Series have averaged an 8.0/14 nationally (13.0 million viewers), down -25% from last year’s 10.6/18 (17.1 million) for a four-game sweep, and -21% vs. the first four games of 2006 (10.1/17, 15.7 million), however Fox still has a chance to surpass last year on total rating points.  “Last year’s four-game Series cumulatively produced 42.7 national rating points, while this year’s has totaled 32.7 points. While most observers focus on average rating, total rating points is a closer reflection of how the World Series contributes to Fox’s overall prime time success,” the network said.

RBR/TVBR observation: Fox cut back on the number of league playoff games it would carry because of the ratings risk. Still, the World Series is a big deal. However, it’s not like the Super Bowl where everything is focused on a single game and most folks will watch even if they don’t care about either team. But that’s not the case with a series of games where one team has to win four times to be crowned the champion. So, you’ll have years like 2008 with no team from New York or Chicago, but instead a team from Florida whose rich traditions date back a whole decade.