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Baseball Gets Ratings Victory

October 15, 2003|Larry Stewart | Times Staff Writer

The combination of a terrible Monday night football game and a much-hyped meeting between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees provided baseball with a rare victory over football in the ratings game.

The Red Sox's 3-2 victory in Game 4 of the American League championship series Monday night on Fox drew an 11.6 national rating with an 18 share of the audience, according to Nielsen research.

The St. Louis Rams' 36-0 shutout of the lifeless Atlanta Falcons on ABC got an 8.4/13.

Except for two World Series games, this was the first baseball game to top "Monday Night Football."

Generally, World Series are not played on Monday nights. The last time there was a Monday night World Series game was in 1996, when a rainout pushed Game 2 of the Series between the Yankees and Atlanta to a Monday night.

That game out-rated "Monday Night Football," 14.0 to 12.0.

Game 7 of the 1986 World Series between the New York Mets and Red Sox was played on a Monday night and it beat football, 38.9 to 8.8.

This year, everything is breaking right for baseball. Through Monday night, the league championship series games on Fox were averaging 9.4/17, a 45% increase over the average at this juncture last year. And it's the best average at this point for Fox since it began televising postseason baseball in 1996.

The presence of the Cubs, Red Sox and Yankees is the main reason for the ratings boon.

"They've moved baseball to the front page," Fox Sports Chairman David Hill said Tuesday.

Hill also conceded the obvious -- that Fox would benefit by having the Cubs in the World Series.

""The Cubs, Red Sox and Yankees have bigger followings than any other teams," he said. "I think anyone who has spent more than one day in Boston is a Red Sox fan."

Hill pointed out that because of baseball, Fox was the top-rated network among adults 18-49 for the week that ended Saturday. Except for a World Series week, it was the first time Fox had won the weekly ratings race in that demographic category.

*

KSPN (710), the Kings' flagship station that is carrying ESPN Radio's postseason baseball, joined two league championship series games in progress last week because of conflicts with King broadcasts, which included lengthy postgame shows.

KSPN announced Tuesday that it would farm out King broadcasts to sister station KDIS, Radio Disney (1110) when there are conflicts with playoff baseball.

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