Instead of ending with a roar, the MLB postseason ended with a whimper this year. The San Francisco Giants swept the Detroit Tigers in four games (with only the fourth coming close to being exciting), and the series did the worst numbers ever for a Fall Classic.
The series averaged a 7.6 rating and 12.7 million viewers on Fox, nearly a full point lower than the previous worst rated series between the Phillies and Rays in 2008 and nearly a million viewers less (8.4 rating and 13.6 million viewers). That 7.6 is way down from last year's 10.0 average rating and 16.6 million average viewers from the 2011 series between the Cardinals and Rangers, which was extremely exciting and dramatic.
What is extremely disappointing (as if the ratings themselves weren't bad enough) is how little of the NFL audience the World Series failed to retain for Sunday's decisive Game 4. The 4PM Giants-Cowboys game drew an 18.8 rating on Sunday as the World Series lead-in, a fantastic number that was up 16% from a Steelers-Patriots matchup last year. The World Series didn't keep even half of that audience, picking up just an 8.9 rating for the final game of the series.
At this point in time, it might not be appropriate to compare MLB's ratings to those of the monster known as the NFL. Game 4 was the only game of the series to top a game from last year's NBA Finals, slightly outdrawing Game 3 of the NBA series by a slight 8.9 to 8.8 margin. The game also topped the ratings for the Daytona 500 (8.0), the final round of the Masters (8.0), and the NCAA national semifinal matchup between Kentucky and Louisville (8.4). I almost don't think it's fair to consistently compare baseball to football when the NFL is beating MLB's brains in when it comes to ratings on a weekly basis. Contrasting MLB to the NBA might be a better proposition for next season, but that's a step backwards overall for a league that deems itself the national pastime.
Is now a good time to mention Fox is going to be paying MLB more than double the rights fees in their next TV contract through 2021?