SBD/Issue 36/Sports Media

World Series Game Four At All-Time Low, But Gives Fox Prime Win

Fox earned a 10.4 overnight Nielsen rating for last night's Giants-Rangers World Series Game Four, which aired up against NBC's "SNF" featuring Steelers-Saints (11.8 overnight). The head-to-head competition led to last night's telecast being the lowest overnight ever for a World Series Game Four. However, despite losing head-to-head against the World Series, Fox won the night in primetime among all nets (7:00-11:00pm ET), which included the net's 45-minute overrun on NFL national window coverage. Last year's Yankees-Phillies Game Four on Fox earned a 15.6 overnight, but it had no NFL game competition in the same time slot. Phillies-Rays Game Four in '08 earned a 10.7 overnight. Last night's Giants-Rangers game earned a 31.5 local rating in Dallas-Ft. Worth and a 36.3 rating in the S.F.-Oakland-San Jose market. The game peaked at an 11.0 rating from 9:00-9:30pm.

Vikings-Patriots (89%)
Vikings-Packers (91%)
Giants-Steelers (89%)
Red Sox-Rockies*
Redskins-Patriots (82%)
* = Series-clinching game

: Fox earned a 6.7 fast-national Nielsen rating and 11.5 million viewers for Saturday night’s Giants-Rangers World Series Game Three from 6:30-9:52pm ET, marking the second lowest-rated World Series game ever. The previous low was for Phillies-Rays Game Three in '08, which started at 9:57pm due to a weather delay, earning a 6.1 rating (9.8 million viewers). Saturday night’s telecast is down 26.4% and 25.3%, respectively, from a 9.1 rating and 15.4 million viewers for Yankees-Phillies Game Three last year, which also started later (9:12pm) due to a weather delay. Fox did earn the win in primetime among all nets on Saturday night, even with the 6:30pm start marking the earliest start for a World Series game since '87. Saturday night was also the net's best Saturday night since Jan. '09. On Thursday night, Fox earned an 8.5 rating (14.1 million viewers) for Rangers-Giants Game Two, down 27% from Yankees-Phillies Game two last year, but up 5% from Phillies-Rays Game Two in '08. Fox also won the night in primetime on Thursday. Through three games, the World Series on Fox is averaging an 8.1 rating and 13.7 million viewers, down 25.7% and 23.6%, respectively, from a 10.9 rating and 17.9 million viewers for Yankees-Phillies at the same point last year, but up 5.2% and 11.2%, respectively, from Phillies-Rays in '08 (Austin Karp, THE DAILY). In N.Y., Benjamin Toff wrote under the header, "World Series Ratings Are Scary But Sufficient." The ratings for Game Two were "mediocre but … lifted Fox to No. 1 on Thursday" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/30). In Dallas, Barry Horn wrote though Dallas-Ft. Worth and S.F.-Oakland-San Jose represent the fifth- and sixth-largest TV markets in the country, Rangers-Giants is "proving no ratings match for last year's Yankees-Phillies matchup, which featured the No. 1 and No. 4 markets" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 10/30).

MORE TROUBLE AHEAD TONIGHT? ESPN’s Mike Greenberg said of the World Series, “Tonight they are up against a very attractive (‘MNF’) game. Peyton Manning, who is the biggest star in the whole NFL, is on 'Monday Night Football,' plus 'Dancing with the Stars.' They are going to get shellacked. … I'm sure there are a lot of people at the headquarters of Major League Baseball who are real unhappy with what's going on." ESPN's Mike Golic, on the World Series: "When you put it up against college football, the NFL, 'Dancing with the Stars,'… it's just going to lose. You have two huge names in Lee and Lincecum throwing and it's going to have bad ratings again" ("Mike & Mike in the Morning," ESPN Radio, 11/1). Chicago Tribune's Bob Foltman, on the World Series matchup between the Giants and Rangers: "I knew as soon as this series matched up we'd get the, 'Oh, nobody cares' because if it's not the Yankees, if it's not the Mets, if it's not the Phillies, then nobody cares in the country at all. That's just the way it is. What can you do?” ("Chicago Tribune Live," Comcast SportsNet Chicago, 10/29). But's Ray Ratto wrote under the header, "No-Interest World Series? Please Ask Your Ratings To Shut Up." Ratto: "Ratings can't measure word of mouth, and not every point of interest requires a click for validity. The Giants and Rangers may not quantify well, but they qualify quite well" (, 10/29).

EARLY-BIRD SPECIAL: MLB Commissioner Bud Selig last night was noncommittal about pursuing a repeat of Saturday's early start time for Game Three of the World Series, with the game generating a 6.7 national TV rating. Selig said, "We'll have to wait and see. I want to take a look at everything once everything is all done." The move to a 6:57pm start for Game Three was further amplified with a 2:51 game duration that was the quickest World Series game since '01. Quarter-hour ratings for Game Three confirmed prior industry research typically indicating the later a game extends, the better a rating gets -- regardless of audience age and other demographics. The game began with a 3.4 rating and 7 share, growing to a 6.6/13 by 8:00pm, about when the first pitch normally would have occurred, and then peaking at a 8.7/16 just before the game's conclusion at 9:52pm. Industry sources suggested the earlier start amounted to a total erosion in the national ratings of 0.4 of a ratings point. Beyond ratings, however, general buzz regarding the earlier start, particularly within social media, trended positively. The shift was also buttressed by several youth-focused marketing initiatives, including the debut on Fox of a new Justin Bieber video and the conclusion of MLB's "World Series of Costumes" Halloween promotion. "We're going to look at everything and evaluate this in its entirety," said MLB Exec VP/Business Tim Brosnan. "You can't make a full evaluation when we have another game [Sunday]. We're going to do all of that, and [Selig] is going to be the one to make the call" (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal). Chevrolet "committed to increased advertising ... to help offset potential revenue losses from the earlier Game 3 start" (AP, 10/31).

MLB HAPPY WITH EARLY START:'s Tom Krasovic wrote MLB was "proud of itself" for starting Game Three early and the fact that the game "ended before 10 p.m. Eastern time." MLB Senior Advisor for Public Affairs Charles Steinberg: "It shows that baseball is listening to families who are asking to help make sure their kids can watch the game. ... There's always a way to make it work. And there was here because baseball, Fox and Chevrolet made it work out" (, 10/30). 

THE BLIZZARD OF OZ: The MORNING NEWS' Horn writes Fox studio analyst and White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen "needs to slow down," as he "has a lot to say and tries to say it all in 10 seconds or less." He "did offer a pregame gem" last night on Giants LF Pat Burrell, who was benched for Game Four "after striking out four times the previous night." Guillen said that when Burrell "asked him how he might improve at the plate," he suggested, "Don't swing anymore. You look like Zorro" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 11/1). Meanwhile, in Chicago, Chris De Luca notes Guillen's "long-threatened blog made its debut on the MLBlogs network" Saturday under the name "Ozzie Speaks." There also are "rumors a website ... will be unveiled in January" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 10/31).

Former Presidents Getting Plenty Of
Fox Airtime During World Series

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH: In St. Petersburg, Tom Jones writes, "You think maybe Fox can work in a few more shots of Rangers owner Nolan Ryan during its World Series broadcasts? Ryan is getting more air time on Fox than Homer Simpson." Also, Fox has "gone overboard with the shots of fans in general during the World Series" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 11/1). The MORNING NEWS' Horn writes if former Presidents George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush got "any more face time" on Fox' coverage, the Democratic National Committee "would be petitioning Fox today for equal time this election season" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 11/1). In N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes Fox' "World Series sensibilities are better, but we still get the feeling that for every camera shooting the game, three are shooting the crowd watching the game" (N.Y. POST, 11/1).

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