With baseball drawing its best ratings in years, Fox executives are rooting for the World Series to go beyond Sunday night’s Game 5 in at Chicago’s Wrigley Field.
Game 4, in which the Cleveland Indians pounded the Chicago Cubs, drew a 10.5 overnight rating according to Nielsen local overnight figures, the highest rating for a Saturday night World Series contest since 2009 when the New York Yankees plays the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Indians took a 3-1 lead in the series and could clinch with another win Sunday night.
Game 3 on Friday, a 1-0 nail-biter, drew 19.4 million viewers, the highest for a game 3 since 2004. Total viewers were up 47% from Game 3 last year, when the Kansas City Royals played the New York Mets.
Generally speaking ratings for a playoff or championship series increase for a long, close series, so a game six or game seven would probably draw even larger numbers. And ad rates for a game seven in this series could set records.
Early games in the Fox sold for about $550,000 per 30 seconds. But some execs estimate that a game 7 could draw more than 30 million viewers and that ad rates could climb much higher, possibly even reaching $1 million for the first time. By comparision, Fox is trying to get more than $5 million for spots in Super Bowl LI.
From an ad sales perspective, networks general count on being able to sell ads in five games. A five-game series more or less breaks even for a network. They make more money as the series go six and seven games. And Fox has ad inventory that was still unsold for games 6 and 7, sources said.
Throughout the playoffs, the Chicago Cubs have been drawing strong ratings, first to Fox’s FS1 network on cable and now to the Fox broadcast network.
The Cubs have captured the interest of more casual fans because they haven’t been in the World Series for 71 years, and haven’t captured a championship since 1908, more than 100 years ago.
The Indians are nearly as compelling. They haven’t won a World Series since 1948. Earlier this year, LeBron James and the NBA Cleveland Cavaliers broke Cleveland’s streak of not winning a championship in any major sport, giving the city a rare chance at a second celebration.
In Cleveland, Saturday’s game drew a 39.8 ratings and 62 share. The game drew a 30.1 rating and 52 share in Chicago.