Low World Series Ratings Could Cost Fox $30 Million A Game

Posted in Banking , Financial News • October 22, 2013

world series

Baseball fans in Boston and St. Louis are gearing up for the ultimate championship series, as the Boston Red Sox take on the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series tomorrow — and Fox is banking heavily on a substantial viewership to pull in ad dollars. However, a scheduling oversight by Major League Baseball could have a huge impact on television ratings and, subsequently, Fox’s revenue.

Can the World Series Compete Against the NFL for Ratings?

In 2011, Fox was charging around $425,000 for a 30-second advertisement spot in the World Series, bringing in about $30 million a game in ad revenue. However, most ad time is sold based on a guaranteed audience; given the historically low ratings for the 2012 World Series — just 12.7 million viewers — cashing in on $30 million a game does not seem likely for Fox this year.

The World Series will be also competing with the NFL four times for ratings if the Red Sox and Cardinals play all seven games during the championship series. However, if MLB had the World Series start today instead of tomorrow, the broadcast would only be competing with one NFL game, per Business Insider.

Although baseball was once considered America’s favorite pastime, professional basketball and football viewership has cut deeper and deeper into television ratings for baseball games throughout the years. This begs the question: How many baseball fans in America will actually be tuning in to the World Series this week?

Current World Series Schedule (bold denotes NFL games scheduled)

Game 1 Wednesday Oct. 23
Game 2 Thursday Oct. 24
Game 3 Saturday Oct. 26
Game 4 Sunday Oct. 27
Game 5 Monday Oct. 28
Game 6 Wednesday Oct. 30
Game 7 Thursday Oct. 31


Modified Schedule If World Series Started Today

Game 1 Tuesday Oct. 22
Game 2 Wednesday Oct. 23
Game 3 Friday Oct. 25
Game 4 Saturday Oct. 26
Game 5 Sunday Oct. 27
Game 6 Tuesday Oct. 29
Game 7 Wednesday Oct. 30

Related article: Broke Athletes: 5 Baseball Players Who Went Into Debt

Fox Better Hope for a 7-Game World Series

Historically, a World Series that has gone the full seven games has much higher television ratings than a four-game blowout. Case in point: The little-viewed 2012 World Series was a four-game blowout. In 2001, however, the Arizona Diamondbacks and New York Yankees competed for all seven games and brought in more than  24.5 million viewers on average each game.

With the last seven World Series pulling in historically low ratings, the downward trend in viewership is likely to continue, which does not bode well for Fox and its ad revenue. And with Fox already paying MLB $500 million a year to broadcast games, including the World Series, until 2021, it is likely to receive a bad return on its investment if NFL fans decide to tune out.

Photo credit: Lorianne DiSabato

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