SBD/October 23, 2013/Media

MLB Postseason Viewership Up 7% Heading Into Cardinals-Red Sox World Series

MLB postseason games have averaged a 3.0 rating and 4.7 million viewers for 32 telecasts across Fox, TBS and MLB Network through the LCS, up 7% from a 2.8 rating and 4.4 million viewers for 33 games last season across Fox, TBS, TNT and MLB Net. Last season’s playoffs featured all four LDS going to five games, and also featured the Yankees advancing to the ALCS. Fox finished the ’13 ALCS with its best LCS audience since ’10, while MLB Net’s two LDS games saw a smaller audience. TBS averaged a 2.7 rating and 4.2 million viewers for 24 postseason telecasts. That rating is flat compared to ’12, when Turner also aired three games on TNT, but the viewership is up 2% from 4.1 million viewers. Looking at afternoon postseason games (Fox, TBS, MLB Net), those 13 telecasts averaged a 2.1 rating and 3.17 million viewers, down slightly from a 2.2 rating and 3.22 million viewers for 14 afternoon telecasts last season (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).

FANS TUNING OUT UP NORTH?
YAHOO SPORTS CANADA's Chris Zelkovich wrote MLB fans in Canada "appear to be ignoring the playoffs." Friday's Cardinals-Dodgers NLCS Game 6 "attracted only 416,000 viewers" from the country. That is "not even a quarter of the audience for Saturday's Hockey Night In Canada prime-time offering and less than half what Saturday night's CFL game drew on TSN." Saturday night's Red Sox-Tigers ALCS Game 6 "did significantly better, averaging 499,000 viewers -- a total that did not include the unknown numbers who chose to watch the game on Fox." In a year when Blue Jays ratings were "up substantially, it does seem odd that there would be such a drop-off in playoff ratings" (CA.SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 10/21).

LEGENDS OF THE FALL: Fox heads into this year's Cardinals-Red Sox matchup coming off a record-low World Series audience for last year's Giants-Tigers four-game set. See the chart below for the most recent appearances by both teams (Karp). Blogger Ed Sherman writes if given the choice, Fox and MLB would take a Mariners-Padres World Series "that goes 7 games over a one-sided 4- or 5-gamer featuring two of baseball's most storied franchises." Sherman: "It's all about games, namely 6 and 7 in the postseason." Fox' Joe Buck said, "Year after year, we talk about the match-up, and who the networks want, and the major markets. To me, if it isn't a compelling series, if it is four or five games and out, it doesn't matter who is playing. If you don't get down to the games that make it fun, like at the beginning of the post-season where it is win or go home" (SHERMANREPORT.com, 10/23). In St. Louis, Dan Caesar writes both the Cardinals and Red Sox "have big widespread followings, as their frequent selection for national telecasts during the regular season underscores." But whether that "translates into the ratings probably will be more of a factor of how good -- and long -- the Series is rather than the teams' storylines." Fox announcers "aren't looking for a repeat" of the Red Sox' sweep of the Cardinals from '04 (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 10/23).

WORLD SERIES AUDIENCE TREND ON FOX
YEAR
MATCHUP
GAMES
RATING
VIEWERS (000)
MEDIAN AGE
'12
Giants-Tigers
4
7.6
12,660
53.4
'11
Cardinals-Rangers
7
10.0
16,645
52.5
'10
Giants-Rangers
5
8.4
14,268
52.6
'09
Yankees-Phillies
6
11.7
19,387
49.9
'08*
Phillies-Rays
5
8.4
13,635
50.5
'07
Red Sox-Rockies
4
10.6
17,123
49.7
'06
Cardinals-Tigers
5
10.1
15,812
51.5
'05
White Sox-Astros
4
11.1
17,162
49.8
'04
Red Sox-Cardinals
4
15.8
25,390
48.4
'03
Marlins-Yankees
6
12.8
20,142
48.3

NOTE: * = Game 5 in '08 was suspended after 5 2/3 innings. Play was resumed on Wednesday night. The combined rating for both nights of Game Five was a 9.6 (15.8 million viewers).

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