Fox earned a 10.0 overnight Nielsen rating for last night's Rangers-Cardinals World Series Game Two, up slightly from a 9.9 rating for the second game of the Giants-Rangers series last year. The game delivered Fox a win in primetime for the second straight night and marked the net's best Thursday since the "American Idol" finale in May. Rangers-Cardinals was also the top program in primetime, beating out episodes of CBS' "The Big Bang Theory" and "The Mentalist." Last night's telecast began with a 6.8 rating at 8:00pm ET, peaking at a 12.9 rating during the final quarter hour from 11:00-11:15pm. St. Louis earned a 49.4 local rating, while Dallas-Ft. Worth earned a 34.4 rating (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).
GAME ONE FINAL RATINGS: Fox finished with an 8.7 fast-national Nielsen rating (14.2 million viewers) for Rangers-Cardinals Game One on Wednesday night, down 2% from an 8.9 rating (15.0 million viewers) for the Giants-Rangers opener last year. The telecast was also the night's highest-rated and most-viewed program in primetime (Karp). However, the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's Lindsay Powers reported ABC's "Modern Family" beat Game One "in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demo." If the numbers "hold true, it's the second year in a row the ABC comedy will have topped the first game of the World Series in the demo" (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 10/20). TVBYTHENUMBERS.com's Robert Seidman noted that Game One ratings among people 18-49 were "down 11% from last year" (TVBYTHENUMBERS.com, 10/20). In N.Y., Joel Sherman wrote Rangers-Cardinals is the matchup "that the masses tell us they want, one that accentuates parity." But MLB is "not embracing a Fall Classic as much as they are bracing for a classic fall in TV ratings." Sherman: "The noise associated with this time of year will not be the crack of the bat as much as the click of the remote. ... The Rangers are a deep, diverse team and the Cardinals are feisty with as close to an AL lineup as exists in the NL. Is this enough to make America care? Probably not" (N.Y. POST, 10/20).
IS IT WORTH IT FOR FOX? ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY’s James Hibberd asked whether the “disruptive fall baseball coverage [is] still worth it” for Fox’ primetime schedule considering the “ratings success Fox has enjoyed with entertainment programs this fall … and considering the year’s World Series yawner match-up.” Fox has had to pre-empt new shows like “New Girl” and “X Factor” so far this month, and Entertainment Chief Kevin Reilly said, “I’d prefer not to do it, but I feel we have shows that viewers will come back for. We could have peppered ‘New Girl’ and ‘Raising Hope’ around the schedule. It felt like ultimately we didn’t want to knock them down by getting them lesser ratings in other time periods.” Hibberd noted discounting the World Series, the six primetime MLB broadcasts on Fox this season “have averaged only a 2.0 in the adult demo,” 31% below its current 2.9 average. However, when baseball “works, it really works.” Fox “won the fall two years ago” behind the launch of “Glee” and the Yankees-Phillies World Series. Instead of “being a drag on the ticket, baseball became a promotional platform for the shows it was temporarily replacing” (EW.com, 10/19).
THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM: In N.Y., Bob Raissman writes there was no mention of Cardinals hitting coach Mark McGwire's '10 admission to using steroids during his playing days when Fox showed him "gazing out from the dugout in the second inning of Game 1." Fox' Joe Buck and Tim McCarver could be planning on "mentioning all of this at another time during the Series," or they could have thought McGwire's past "is not relevant to the current proceedings." It is "doubtful they were just ducking controversy," as they previously have "talked about steroid use on Fox baseball broadcasts." Raissman wonders if Buck and McCarver were "advised to make any discussion of McGwire's past a low priority." He writes MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, "obsessed with his legacy, doesn't need steroid memories to be rekindled from sea to shining sea -- especially during the World Series" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/21). The GLOBE & MAIL's Bruce Dowbiggin writes Buck "talked about how hard McGwire had worked on learning hitting after his first years in Oakland." Dowbiggin: "Nary a mention of the andro unpleasantness giving him a tiny boost" (GLOBE & MAIL, 10/21).
THE FUTURE'S SO BRIGHT: The HotSpot technology Fox is using during the World Series was the topic of conversation during many of Thursday's sports talk shows on TV. ESPN’s Dan Le Batard said, “This is what baseball needed. It used to be slow, but now that you throw in an infrared, slow-motion pajama-cam it makes it better.” The show later began showing Le Batard on-screen using the infrared camera and he said, “Wait a minute, look at this. This is kind of cool now. I like this. Look at this: I’m an African-American Colonel Sanders" (“Dan Le Batard Is Highly Questionable,” ESPN2, 10/20). ESPN’s “Around The Horn” began the broadcast with the panelists being shown with the infrared camera. Host Tony Reali said, “Welcome to the future, fellas.” ESPN’s J.A. Adande said it is “time for MLB to get with the technology.” The camera showed Rangers 3B Adrian Beltre fouled a pitch off his foot during the ninth inning of Game One despite the umpires ruling it a fair ball. Adande said, “I thought it was really cool and it could help to determine whether or not a guy should be on base or not.” Denver Post columnist Woody Paige said, “You have the technology available to the umpires. They could use it, they could determine it.” Columnist Kevin Blackistone: “We do have the technology available, but I don’t know why on my 42-inch color screen in HD I’m looking at a blurry black-and-white photo with a little white blotch on it" (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 10/20). ESPN's Michael Wilbon called the camera “junk, because it gives you a picture that is not as good as the one you had in full color.” Wilbon: “We don’t need this technology in the World Series” ("PTI," ESPN, 10/20). However, ESPN's Colin Cowherd said, "If you can use technology to get anything right, use it. Fans win, players win, game wins, TV network wins. Who wins with the wrong call?” ESPN’s Michelle Beadle: “We know baseball’s never going to want this. They are so slow in accepting any kind of change” ("SportsNation," ESPN2, 10/20).