This MLB Postseason has brought some great ratings to TBS and Fox Sports 1. Turner had their most-watched Postseason since 2010, despite three sweeps. Fox Sports 1 continually set ratings records this fall. And now, we have a World Series featuring the Kansas City Royals and San Francisco Giants, an intriguing, unique matchup.
But “intriguing” and “unique” don’t exactly tell us much about how the series will fare when it comes to ratings. The Royals play in a much smaller market than the Giants, but have captured a much larger portion of that market than their opponent. There has also been less success in recent years for the Royals compared to the Giants, meaning that casual fans have a nice narrative to grab onto.
The Giants have disappointed in terms of viewership numbers in their two most recent World Series runs. Their 2012 sweep of the Tigers was viewed by an average of 12.7 million viewers, making it the least-watched World Series ever. Their five game triumph over the Rangers in averaged 14.3 million viewers, better than just the Phillies-Rays Fall Classic in 2008 and the aforementioned 2012 series. Even if you go back in time to 1989 and 2002, the 24.55 million and 19.261 million viewers that those two series averaged were among the least watched in surrounding years.
Luckily for MLB, their shrewd scheduling of the World Series lets them avoid a good chunk of primetime NFL action. They don’t have to deal with the Chargers and Broncos on Thursday Night Football unless one of the first two games of the series is rained out. They don’t have to deal with the Redskins and Cowboys on Monday Night Football. The 49ers have a bye this week, and since no one in the Bay Area really cares about the Raiders, the Giants will be the focus in the Bay Area next weekend. The Chiefs also host the Rams on Fox at 1 PM next Sunday, just hours before Game 4. I’m sure Fox won’t spare any expense in shilling for baseball during that broadcast.
College football broadcasts also won’t be much of an issue locally – Cal plays on Friday at 10 PM (after Game 3 will already be two hours deep), Stanford plays at 3:30 on Saturday, and Missouri plays just a half hour later. On a national scale, Fox lucked out by only having one (as of Saturday morning) matchup of ranked teams on the docket – USC vs Utah, which starts at 10 PM on Saturday. Simply put, there isn’t much competition at all from live sporting events.
However, that doesn’t mean a whole lot of anything. The success or failure in the ratings of this World Series comes down to the level of play. The Wild Card games, LDS, and LCS all provided us with incredible, balls to the wall action that we haven’t seen in years. If these World Series games follow suit, the viewers will follow, and MLB will end up thrilled with the results.