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

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 1WednesdayOct. 23
Game 2ThursdayOct. 24
Game 3SaturdayOct. 26
Game 4SundayOct. 27
Game 5MondayOct. 28
Game 6WednesdayOct. 30
Game 7ThursdayOct. 31


Modified Schedule If World Series Started Today

Game 1TuesdayOct. 22
Game 2WednesdayOct. 23
Game 3FridayOct. 25
Game 4SaturdayOct. 26
Game 5SundayOct. 27
Game 6TuesdayOct. 29
Game 7WednesdayOct. 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

  • ZzZz

    I would rather watch the Jacksonville Jaguars Play the Minnesota Vikings than watch the world series…..sorry FOX not lookin good for ya!

    • NFL Gal

      Agreed, baseball is wayyyy too slow for my liking.

  • Shaun Jones

    With TV viewership and ratings already on the downturn, it will be interesting to see how significant of a impact this has on Fox.

  • Dodger Dog

    I think viewership depended a lot on the teams playing… sadly, I just don’t think the Cardinals or the Red Sox have big enough fanbases to push that needle the way Fox would hope. I’m still sad the Dodgers dropped out – not sure I’ll be watching now.

    • baseballfan

      Are you serious? Cards and Sox have got to be top 5 biggest fanbases in the MLB and you think they can’t push the needle? Leave baseball now.

      • Cory Puffett

        Yes, the Cardinals and Rex Sox both have large fan bases (not sure if both are top 5, but both are easily top 10). The problem is that, for most fans outsides of these fan bases, these teams are not only dislikes, they are despised, hated. They’re like my Yankees. You either love them or you hate them. The Cardinals are essentially the Yankees of the NL. The Red Sox, once the ‘lovable losers,’ or at least lovable by non-Yankees fans, have become obnoxious and widely hated since they won their second World Series since the ‘Curse of the Bambino.’

        If this world series featured teams like the Pirates and the Orioles, neither of which have particularly large fan bases outside of their region, but both of which have very loyal fan bases who fans of other teams don’t hate, this World Series would get much better ratings than the one we’re now being subject to.

        • Todd

          The Cardinals are #2 and the Red Sox #9 in attendance for 2013. This is a very compelling World Series match-up. Granted I have a bias as a Cardinals fan, but I CANNOT imagine a Pirates/Orioles match-up getting better ratings. With so many young players for the Cards, it is truly interesting to see them perform in this setting and on this stage. 20 out of the 25 men on the Cardinals roster came up through their farm system and not through free-agency. At least in that way, they are NOT the New York Yankees of the NL. They allowed their best player, Pujols, to walk other than pay him a salary that would have handcuffed them for the future. Two years later, they are back in the World Series.

          • craigbhill

            Going back to when the Pirates did play the Orioles, twice in the 1970s, they were the two LOWEST-RATED WORLD SERIES OF THAT DECADE

        • Ted

          This might be one of the dumbest things I’ve ever read on the internet. Congrats Cory!

  • frantic

    Maybe if Fox got halfway decent announcers, ratings would go up.

    • seve

      Disagree, Tim McCarver is a hall of fame broadcaster. Move on!

  • nuwriter

    The NFL games in question are:


    Those aren’t exactly marquee matchups. The Packers-Vikings game was beaten in the ratings by game 4. The Seahawks-Rams will get crushed in St. Louis.

    The Bengals-Dolphins will not beat a potential game 7 of the World Series.

  • Elvin Vinicio


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  • Gilman Egan

    Also why not run day games on the weekend

    • craigbhill

      That idea has been nullified by the fact the weekend day games would be going up against a PLAGUE of football games.

  • St louis fan

    Fox sucks, thanks to Joe Buck and his jerk partner!

  • dcount

    Baseball has gotten to be too slow. Make the umpires call borderline pitches strikes. Order the umpires to call a strike every time a batter steps out of the box during an at bat. (I won’t watch the Red Sox or the Yankees because every game is an interminable bore with guys ‘working the count’ instead of swining the bat.)
    Get rid of Joe Buck and Tim McCarver as announcers.

    Play day games in the the World Series.

    Reduce the length of the post season – it is the Boys of Summer and October Classic and not the Boys of Late Fall in the November Classic.

    • seve

      What wrong with you people and the issues with the broadcasters? Tim McCarver will be a hall of fame broadcaster as soon as hes eligible and Joe Buck has been calling games for as long as I can remember. Sorry but the broadcasters are NOT the reason people are not going to tune in to the World Series.

  • craigbhill

    The problem with playing in October, especially late October, is twofold, the heated-up pro and college football competition vs the WS that never used to exist back in the day, especially when baseball ended before cold weather came barrelling in, which does NOT cause viewers to tune in to the summer game; and expansion, which created a team for every baseball fan to follow, and as those teams are eliminated, their fans don’t watch the two left THEY WERE ROOTING AGAINST ALL YEAR.

    How to fix it, best as it can be: Keep the 1-game play-in for the WCs but play the damn thing BEFORE OCTOBER STARTS; make the divisional series best 2 of 3; reverse the LCS to best 3 of 5, cutting the chaff from the pressure-packed games PEOPLE TUNE IN TO WATCH; and start the World Series as close to October 10th as humanly possible, changing the schedule as each of the first 3 series ends, so there is AT MOST 1 day off before the WS starts. The schedule as it stands now draws DISMAL RATINGS, so the solution is not to keep expanding these games and the interim between them, BUT TO SHRINK THEIR NUMBER AND KEEP PLAYING WITHOUT LONG BREAKS BETWEEN SERIES, which do NOTHING to help ratings but do EVERYTHING to continue to fragment those ratings. That way there’s huge viewer momentum with these games that doesn’t stop until the last out of the WS. Playing 20 games max per league within 31 days IS RIDICULOUS, MLB, when that could be shortened to 16 games, max, within 20 days, JUST LIKE IN THE REGULAR SEASON. No more days off for travel until the WS begins, with a maximum 1 day off between each series. END THE LONG BREAKS BETWEEN WHAT WOULD BE SHORTENED SERIES, MLB! And once out of the cold weather competition with football, watch the ratings reverse their descent.

  • Wayne

    Nobody likes Boston and the people are tired of the Cards. Need to infuse new blood. Yes better announcers would help. Shortening the season back to 154 games and get the whole thing over early in October would probably hep best.