The National League Championship Series was very, very good to FS1, giving the network record viewership. People wanted to watch the Chicago Cubs in the MLB postseason, charging toward their first World Series in 71 years with hopes of seeing the cursed franchise win its first championship since 1908.
Game 6 of the NLCS, during which the Cubs clinched the NL pennant, drew a huge number for FS1. The 6.2 overnight rating beat out all of the college football games played that Saturday (Oct. 22), finishing as the most-viewed event of the day on television.
Even w/no gm 7 in NLCS, FS1 again led all cable primetime for week & easily beat ESPN:
1. FS1: 4.235M
2. Fox News: 3.306M
3. ESPN: 2.222M
— Sports TV Ratings (@SportsTVRatings) October 25, 2016
However, without the huge boost that the Cubs’ postseason run provided, the numbers for the network have looked quite different.
Two weeks ago, FS1 was the most-watched cable network during primetime, finishing ahead of Fox News and ESPN. The network held that lead over ESPN in primetime (though not in total day viewing) last week, the first time FS1 finished ahead of ESPN as the highest-rated sports cable network over an entire week in its three-year existence.
Thank you for watching! pic.twitter.com/QjDy1AVog2
— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) October 20, 2016
FS1 was quick to boast about taking that top spot, declaring itself “America’s #1 sports network.”
But without the Cubs and the nine postseason games that FS1 aired, the audience hasn’t stuck around to keep watching. According to Sports TV Ratings, the network fell from the No. 1 spot to the No. 60 spot in primetime for the week ending Oct. 30.
correction FS1 fell as far as you’d guess w/o Cubs. 10/24-30 primetime:
1. ESPN: 2.9M
2. FNC: 2.8M
60. FS1: .209Mhttps://t.co/6j7rFmdPR9
— Sports TV Ratings (@SportsTVRatings) November 1, 2016
Going from a total audience of 4.235 million viewers to 209,000 is a significant dive. There’s no delicate way to put it. The large majority of viewers who stayed with FS1 during the week of the NLCS because their televisions were already tuned to that channel didn’t stick around once the Cubs moved on to the World Series and the main Fox network.
Yet getting a taste of FS1’s morning programming, particularly Undisputed, appears to have convinced some viewers to stick with that show. Sports TV Ratings showed that the audience for the daily Skip Bayless-Shannon Sharpe debate has increased by approximately 50 percent since its September debut, averaging around 125,000 viewers. The rising tide of live sports lifts all boats on the programming schedule, which ultimately has to please FS1.