Major League Baseball is indeed fortunate that the World Series is headed to a sixth game, as the five-game average for the series was the worst ever.
Monday’s Rangers/Cardinals Game 5 drew an 8.8 final rating and 14.3 million viewers on FOX, flat in ratings and down 4% in viewership from last year (SF/TEX G5: 8.8, 14.950M), and down 17% and 16%, respectively, from 2009 (NYY/PHI G5: 10.6, 17.092M).
Last year’s Game 5 was the deciding game of the series.
The 8.8 rating is tied as the lowest ever for Game 5 of the World Series, and the ninth-lowest for any World Series game. The Texas Rangers have now played in ten of the sixteen lowest rated World Series games of all time.
Over the past four seasons (dating back to 2008), only five of 21 World Series games have drawn a double-digit rating (24%). The World Series’ percentage trails that of other sports, including the NBA Finals (29%), NCAA Men’s Final Four (33%), and Bowl Championship Series (45%).
To put that in perspective, 220 of the previous 224 World Series games hit double-digits (98%).
Though the numbers have been low by historical standards, the fact that this year’s World Series is on par with last year is impressive when one considers the disparity in market size. The St. Louis (#21) market has approximately one million fewer homes than the San Francisco Bay Area (#6) did last year.
As evidence of the effect of that disparity, consider the local ratings for Game 5. The Cardinals’ loss attracted 46.9% of television homes in St. Louis, equaling approximately 588,000 households (equivalent to a 0.5 U.S. rating). Last year’s Game 5 drew a 37.9 in the Bay Area, equaling 956,000 homes (equivalent to a 0.8 U.S. rating in last year’s Nielsen universe).
The 46.9 rating in St. Louis marks a 9% decline from the Cardinals’ series-clinching Game 5 in 2006 (51.7).
In the Dallas-Ft. Worth market, Game 5 drew a 40.0 rating — up 28% from last year’s Giants/Rangers Game 5 (31.3). By comparison, Game 5 of this year’s Mavericks/Heat NBA Finals drew a 31.9 rating in the market, and Game 5 of the 2006 Heat/Mavericks series earned a 36.0. Monday’s game drew a higher rating in Dallas than any Mavericks NBA Finals game.
Through Game 5, the 2011 World Series is averaging an 8.3 rating and 13.7 million viewers, down a tick in ratings and 4% in viewership from last year (8.4, 14.3M), and down 27% in both measures compared to 2009 (11.4, 18.7M).
This marks the lowest rated World Series ever through five games.
(This year’s numbers from Fox Sports Media Group press release via TV By the Numbers)