MLB's League Championship Series matchups on TBS and Fox are up through two games, depending on how you look at the ratings and viewership numbers.
Let's talk about the ALCS on Fox first. Saturday night's Game 1 drew a 4.2 final rating and 6.8 million viewers, beating the NASCAR race from Charlotte on ABC. With a slim set of college football games on the schedule, the solid numbers were expected. Game 1 of the ALCS was essentially flat from Fox's broadcast of Game 1 of the NLCS last year between the Cardinals and Giants last year, which drew a 4.1 final rating and an identical 6.8 million viewers with a direct lead-in from the NFL. However, it was up 20% and 17% from 2011's ALCS Game 1 on Fox between the Rangers and Tigers, which drew a 3.5 final rating and 5.8 million viewers. All in all – that's a success. Game 2 ended up drawing 8.2 million viewers and a 5.9 overnight, both of which are massive jumps from last year's ALCS on TBS and last year's NLCS on Fox. Considering the competition (Sunday Night Football and the season premiere of The Walking Dead), those numbers should be considered a huge success for Fox.
When you look at Games 1 and 2 of the NLCS on TBS though, things get a little… interesting. Friday night's Game 1 between the Cardinals and Dodgers drew a 3.5 final rating and 5.5 million viewers, which is down 17% and 19% from 2012's ALCS Game 1 between the Tigers and Yankees, which picked up a 4.2 final rating and 6.8 million viewers. Comparing it to 2011's NLCS between the Cardinals and Brewers on TBS though, Game 1 was up by 67% and 63%. Keep in mind, Game 1 of that Cardinals-Brewers series took place on a Sunday afternoon against the NFL, which speaks to its weak 2.1 final rating and 3.4 million viewers.
Saturday afternoon's Game 2 on TBS drew a 2.2 rating and 3.4 million viewers, down 29% and 33% from 2012's Tigers-Yankees matchup (which drew a 3.1 and 5.0 million viewers on a Sunday afternoon). Game 2 was up compared to 2011's Game 2, which drew just a 1.9 rating and 3.0 million viewers on a Monday night (against that pesky football thing once again).
All in all, the NLCS ratings are a subjective animal. Over two games, the series has averaged a 3.0 rating and 4.7 million viewers, which is down 21% and 23% from the Yankees-Tigers ALCS last year. That series averaged a 3.8 and 6.1 million viewers. TBS's LCS ratings and viewership this year are up a whopping 50% and 47% from the 2011 NLCS, which averaged a 2.0 rating and 3.2 million viewers.
And here's where the subjectivity thing comes into play: this is going to be spun as the "second-highest rated and most-viewed NLCS in TBS history!" In reality, it's the third-lowest rated and least-watched LCS on TBS in the seven years they've had the rights. Every ALCS matchup on TBS has outdrawn this series, as has 2009's Phillies-Dodgers NLCS. The only LCS matchups to air on TBS that had lower averages were the Rockies-Diamondbacks tilt in 2007, and the aforementioned Cardinals-Brewers matchup in 2011. It's not a coincidence that each of those matchups didn't feature any East Coast markets and were inter divisional.
Game 3 of the Cardinals-Dodgers series is tonight, and maybe MLB can get some traction thanks to a weak (on paper) Monday Night Football matchup between the Colts and Chargers. If the NLCS continues to roll along at this pace, MLB and Turner will once again have turned in a disappointing ratings performance, despite what they might tell you.