Phillies/Rays has company. Despite featuring the #5 and #6 television markets, the 2010 World Series tied the record low average rating set just two years earlier.
The five-game Giants/Rangers series averaged an 8.4 rating and 14.3 million viewers on FOX, down 28% in ratings and 26% in viewership from last year’s Yankees/Phillies series (11.7, 19.4 mil), and even in ratings and up 5% in viewership from Phillies/Rays in 2008 (8.4, 13.6 mil).
Giants/Rangers is tied as the lowest rated World Series of all time, matching the aforementioned 2008 series. This marks just the second time in history — but the second time in just three years — that the World Series has averaged less than a 10.0 rating.
Prior to 2008, the lowest rated World Series (Cardinals/Tigers in 2006) still managed to average a double-digit rating (10.1) and nearly 16 million viewers (15.8 mil).
This is the seventh time since the 1994 strike that the World Series has either set or tied a record low in television ratings (1998, 2000, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2010).
None of the five games of Giants/Rangers managed a double-digit rating, and only one game even managed a 9.0 rating. This is the second time in history that no World Series game has drawn a double-digit rating, along with 2008.
Of the past 16 World Series games, eleven have failed to hit double-digits — all five games of this year’s series, all five games of the 2008 series, and Game 3 of Yankees/Phillies last year.
During the previous 35 years (1972-2007), only four World Series games drew less than a 10.0 rating.
The series was no hit among adults 18-49, drawing ratings of 4.7 (Game 1), 4.0 (Game 2), 4.3 (Game 4) and 4.2 (Game 5). Demo ratings for Game 3 were not available, as the Rangers’ lone win did not rank among the Top 25.
Last year, only one game of the World Series drew less than a 5.0 in the demo, and three of the six games topped 6.0. The series as a whole averaged a 6.2 in the demo.
For the second time in three years, the World Series finished behind the NBA Finals. The Lakers/Celtics series averaged a 10.6 rating and 18.144 million viewers on ABC in June, topping the World Series by 26% and 27%, respectively. While average adults 18-49 rating for the World Series was unavailable, the event no doubt trailed the Finals (7.3) by a significant margin.
Of course, Lakers/Celtics lasted seven games, while Giants/Rangers lasted five. That said, the NBA Finals’ five-game average of 9.6 and 16.2 million viewers still tops the World Series by 14% and 13%, respectively.
The World Series had beaten the NBA Finals every year from 1999 to 2007. Overall, the NBA Finals has outdrawn the World Series during the same calendar year just five times — 1993 (NBA: 17.9, 27.209 mil; MLB: 17.3, 24.700 mil), 1997 (NBA: 16.8, 25.586 mil; MLB: 16.7, 24.790 mil), 1998 (NBA: 18.7, 29.040 mil; MLB: 14.1, 20.340 mil), 2008 (NBA: 9.3, 14.941 mil; MLB: 8.4, 13.635 mil) and this year (NBA: 10.6, 18.144 mil; MLB: 8.4, 14.300 mil).
One reason for the lower numbers was increased competition, as the World Series aired directly opposite the NFL twice this year. During the previous ten series (2000-09), the series faced NFL action on just four occasions. Two of those four games were Game 7s, and all four of the opposing NFL games aired on cable.
Additionally, it might be no coincidence that the low numbers for Giants/Rangers come during an election year. In six of the last seven years to feature a major election (midterm or presidential), the World Series has set a record low rating. The only exception was 2004, when the Red Sox’ won their first World Series title in 86 years.
Overall, the numbers for Giants/Rangers show that the 2008 World Series was not an anomaly. Single-digit ratings may potentially be the norm for future non-Yankee World Series. That said, any sporting event that can average at least 8% of U.S. television households is a strong television draw, and even the worst World Series still draws numbers that many sports cannot achieve.