With plenty of big story lines heading into the playoffs, Fox Sports' baseball coverage has scored higher ratings, and Fox Sports Net regional cable channels are coming off a strong run during the regular season.
It's a different story at Fox Family Channel. It averaged an anemic 0.4 rating with its weekly regular-season games and a 1.8 rating/4 share in households for its eight Division Series games. Last season, ESPN's eight-game package averaged a 2.3/6.
But the Fox broadcast network is doing much better. Its prime time ratings during the Division Series games jumped 25% from last year, and the network's overall coverage was up 6%—while pro and college sports in general were tumbling.
The New York Yankees-Seattle Mariners opening game of the American League Championship Series slumped in the ratings, against a comparable contest last year.
The Yankees' 4-2 win produced a metered-market rating of 6.2/13. That was 20% lower than NBC's second ALCS game, which received a 7.6/17 in the same 4 p.m. starting slot.
The 17 regional Fox Sports Net cable channels saw a 10% increase during the regular season, averaging a 3.3 metered-market household rating. Last season, the regional nets averaged a 3.0 Nielsen rating.
"Especially in these times, post-Sept. 11, the sport really seems to fit where the American psyche is now," says Fox Sports Net President Tracy Dolgin. "It's patriotic and very American."
Riding Barry Bonds' home-run record, Fox Sports' prime time coverage (five games) averaged a 6.4/11, up 25% from last year's combined NBC and Fox prime time coverage.
This season is the first for Fox in its new six-year, $2.5 billion deal that brings all post-season baseball to Fox and its cable properties. Its 10 Division Series games (five daytime, five prime time) averaged a 5.3 household rating, up 6% from 2000.
—Additional reporting by Richard Tedesco