World Series drew biggest audience since 2004

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The 2009 Major League Baseball World Series on Fox drew an average audience of 19.4 million viewers, which The Nielsen Company says is the biggest draw since 2004. The heavy viewership is credited in part to having two big city East Coast teams duking it out, with the New York Yankees emerging triumphant over the Philadelphia Phillies four games to two.


Fox is trumpeting that the 2009 Series posted the biggest gain over the previous year ever, up 39% from the 2008 match-up of the Phillies and Tampa Bay Rays. This year’s six games averaged an 11.7 Household rating and 19 share and a 6.2 rating for the 18-49 demo. The HH average for the five games in 2008 was 8.4/14.

Nielsen says the 2004 Series, which saw the Boston Red Sox sweep the St. Louis Cardinals 4-0 drew an average 25.4 million viewers. The final game that year drew 28.8 million viewers. It was also game four this year that was the biggest draw, with 25.4 million viewers.

These days, Nielsen also measures Internet activity. Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees registered the most Internet “buzz” during the World Series. But activity shot up dramatically for Yankee Hideki Matsui after the final out of the final game, which included the six-RBI performance that led to his being named World Series MVP.

RBR-TVBR observation: To a large degree, the TV network carrying the World Series (which has been Fox for a while now) is at the mercy of fate as far as which teams make it to the showdown. The past couple of years had teams from Tampa and Denver, which not only are not top 10 DMAs, but also do not have legacy team franchises.

And even if you get two teams with huge followings, there’s always the risk of a blow-out, with the better team taking four games in a row. At least Fox got six games this year before a winner was decided. Three of the past six years saw 4-0 sweeps that deprived Fox of the ad revenues that additional games would have brought in. By the way, the last Series to go to the maximum seven games was in 2002.