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Volume 25 No. 214
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Fox: Red Sox' Diminished Appeal One Reason For WS Viewership Drop

David Price's Red Sox seem to have lost some of their appeal from a national audience

Fox Sports attributed this year’s surprising audience drop for the World Series to several factors, including a diminished national appeal for the Red Sox, reduced TV viewership industry-wide, smaller tune-in from the N.Y. and Chicago markets and a heightened news cycle driven by the mail bombs and Pittsburgh mass-shooting stories. The Red Sox-Dodgers contest, involving two of MLB’s most prominent franchises, on paper was a matchup that the league and Fox would have gladly accepted in any given year. However, the first four games each consistently tracked behind the ratings pace set by Astros-Dodgers a year ago. “There are a number of things going on,” said Fox Sports Exec VP/Research, League Operations & Strategy Mike Mulvihill. “It’s possible the national appeal of the Red Sox is not quite what it was in [prior title years of] 2004 or 2007 or even 2013. And we are seeing less this year from New York and Chicago, two very important markets, after the Yankees and Cubs bowed out of the playoffs earlier than they did last year. But when you also look at things, at the shares being down a lot less than the viewership is, it tells you that we’re talking about a rather different type of viewing situation overall. And I think the factors around this are less about baseball specifically and more about trends around TV usage broadly.”

MARATHON GAME: Friday's Game 3, a record-long World Series game in both innings and overall duration, peaked among all audiences including kids 2-11 and teens 12-17 around 11:30-11:59pm ET. The game recorded a higher average audience, 14.13 million viewers, between 11:00pm-2:10am than its average of 12.28 million viewers prior to 11:00pm. The rising ratings in the late hours once again contradict the myth of mass viewer tuneout after 11:00pm. The four innings of the game played after 2:10am were not nationally rated, as Fox voluntarily ended its national ad breaks in a move to protect its overall average rating for the game. The net said the average viewer length of tune-in for Game 3 was about 2.5 hours, roughly twice a normal World Series rating. “It was pretty striking how long people hung in for this and showed the power of the sport,” Mulvihill said.