The 2012 MLB postseason continues to be a rating success for the league. Monday's NLCS Game Seven on Fox between the Giants and Cardinals drew a playoff-high 8.1 million viewers, even with huge competition from the third (and final) presidential debate. The LCS on TBS and Fox combined to draw an average of 6.2 million viewers per game, up 7% last year from the Rangers-Tigers ALCS on Fox and the Cardinals-Brewers NLCS on TBS.
While that 7% increase from 2011 to 2012 is a good number, it pales in comparison to what happened in the NBA four months ago. The Eastern Conference Finals between the Heat and the Celtics on ESPN were up 25% to 6.228 million viewers, and the Western Conference Finals between the Thunder and the Spurs on TNT were up 13% to 6.939 million viewers despite two small markets involved, an extremely impressive feat.
The modest gains in MLB's LCS and NBA's Conference Finals present a sharp contrast to the NHL's Conference Finals, which were down 11% despite having both the New York and Los Angeles markets involved.
As far as the Fall Classic goes, during the last presidential election season in 2008, the Phillies-Rays World Series drew the worst ratings ever for a World Series. The Giants-Rangers World Series in 2010 drew similarly bad ratings, and was the second worst rated series ever. The third worst? Yup: the Cardinals-Tigers series in 2006. It could be a chore for baseball to continue the overall ratings growth in the 2012 postseason, especially considering that the 2011 Cardinals-Rangers series was on pace for similar bad ratings as 2010 until two final thrilling games resulted in over 20 million viewers watching back to back World Series games for the first time since 2004's Red Sox-Cardinals series.
It'll be very interesting to see where Giants-Tigers starts in the ratings when the full numbers come out later today after Pablo Sandoval's heroics in San Francisco's 8-3 victory.