The Cowboys-Giants on Sunday Night Football set a ratings record for a regular season game (see Maury Brown’s story on bizoffootball). The NFL also set records for an opening game, pre-season game and NFL draft. Baseball on the other hand set an all-time low in 2008 for the World Series. Last week the NFL drew over 34 million viewers, the World Series last season averaged only 13 million despite four out of five games being separated by two runs or less.
Five things to consider heading into the MLB playoffs:
- Sunday and Monday Night Football
The NFL was generous last season, opting not to have a Sunday Night Football game that conflicted with the World Series. They will do the same this season as game four of the World Series is scheduled for Nov. 1.
Playoff games that will or could conflict with the NFL schedule: game three of the both AL division series and a potential game four for both NL division series will be played Sunday Oct. 11. The Colts play the Titans on Sunday Night Football on NBC on the same date. Even if Major League Baseball opts to play day games, they would still conflict with the NFL. In the championship series’ there will be a Monday night ratings battle as game three of the ALCS and game four of the NLCS will face the Denver Broncos vs. San Diego Chargers on ESPN. If there is a game seven of the ALCS, it will conflict with New York Giants vs. Arizona Cardinals on Sunday Night Football. Though Sunday and Monday night football may not draw 34 million, Major League Baseball would be wise to do as much as possible to avoid a head-to-head with the NFL.
- FOX and TBS Factor?
Last season’s World Series rating was an 8.4. The previous low was a 10.1 in 2006. The last time the World Series rating was higher than 20 was 1992. Since FOX took the World Series from CBS the average rating is 12.9. From 1990 to 1993, CBS ratings averaged 20.5.
TBS playoff ratings dropped 22% from 2007 to 2008 drawing only 4.2 million for the division series’. This season, TBS will feature both division series again, but only National League Championship Series, FOX has the ALCS. Last season, TBS achieved extremely high for the ALCS (likely because of the Red Sox) highlighted by a 7.9 rating for game 7.
- New York, Los Angeles, Boston
World Series’ that include these teams naturally score higher due to superior market size, don’t they? According to World Series ratings, not exactly. The 1996 World Series score the highest since FOX with a 17.4. The last five World Series featuring the three major cities average a meager 13.6. A Yankees-Red Sox ALCS has the potential to draw more viewers than the World Series supposing the Rockies or Cardinals make the series. World Series’ featuring St. Louis or Colorado average a 10.4 rating.
-Will it snow?
For only the second time in history, the World Series will be played in November. Weather.com says it’s unlikely to snow in New York City in November. Average lows are around 41 degrees. In St. Louis, the record low temperature is 21 degrees on Nov. 1, but that was in 1913. Boston, Philadelphia and Colorado could also risk flurries. Major League Baseball will cross its fingers in hopes of avoiding a repeat of last year’s radar fiasco.
Who will win?
-If you play the salary game, the Yankees. Of the top eight salaries in MLB, six of them (assuming the Tigers hang on) make the playoffs. The Cardinals and Rockies are the only two teams outside the top eight. Since the 1994 strike, only five teams outside the top five in MLB payrolls have won the World Series, so I guess you can put your money where the money is.
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Matthew Coller is contributor to the Business of Sports Network and is a freelance writer. He can be followed on Twitter
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