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Long Series Is the Key

Despite missing out on a New York team, Fox officials are hoping for a competitive matchup to help built ratings.

October 21, 2006|Larry Stewart | Times Staff Writer

If Fox television had its way, the Detroit Tigers would be playing the New York Mets in the World Series instead of the St. Louis Cardinals. That's because the New York TV market is the nation's largest. Detroit ranks 10th, and St. Louis 22nd.

But Ed Goren, Fox Sports president, says the teams and the sizes of their markets aren't the most important factors in getting good World Series ratings.

"It's about how many games you get," he said. "We're coming off back-to-back World Series sweeps."

The Boston Red Sox defeated the Cardinals in four games in 2004 and the Chicago White Sox beat the Houston Astros in four games last year.

Goren concedes that Fox's "ratings people" have told him a Mets-Tigers Series would probably out-rate a Cardinals-Tigers Series, but adds, "Having said that, it's more about volume than about the matchup.

"The World Series last year, despite being a four-game sweep, was the sixth highest-rated show in prime time for the fourth quarter. The World Series typically out-rates the prime-time average by 82%.

"In 1990, the spread was 69%, in the '80s, 58%, and in the '70s, 52%. In today's ratings world, the World Series is a ratings success.... It's just a matter of how good it can be."

And a dramatic, seven-game Series would generate the highest ratings.

Case in point: Thursday night's Game 7 of the National League Championship Series -- a dramatic 3-1 victory for the Cardinals -- earned an overnight Nielsen rating of 12.4 with a 19 share of the audience. For Game 6 the previous night, when the Mets won, 4-2, the overnight rating was a 9.2 with a 14.

The Game 7 rating enabled Fox to win the night Thursday, generally television's highest-rated night.

Local ratings for Game 7 included a 47.6 with a 61 share in St. Louis, a 27.4/41 in New York and a 10.9/19 in Los Angeles.

The Fox telecasts for first-round division series averaged only a 4.9 rating. The final national average for Fox's championship series telecasts was not available Friday.


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