Fox is hoping Tigers ace Justin Verlander is a big draw. (AFP/Getty Images )
Fox is hoping that it has a ratings winner with a World Series featuring Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander and Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera going against the San Francisco Giants, who beat the odds to make it to the Fall Classic.
The series, which starts Wednesday in San Francisco, may have trouble scoring big audiences because of the lack of an East Coast team. Typically, the World Series gets its biggest ratings when either the New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox are representing the American League.
Last year's epic battle between the St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers (won by the Cards in seven games) averaged 16.6-million viewers, according to Nielsen. That was a little better than the 2010 series, when the Giants beat the Rangers, which averaged 14.3-million viewers. Neither came close to the 19.3-million viewers that watched the Yankees beat the Philadelphia Phillies in 2009.
The last time a World Series averaged more than 20-million viewers was in 2004 when the Boston Red Sox's win over the Cardinals attracted 25.4-million viewers per game. The championship was the first for the Red Sox since 1918.
A World Series hasn't topped the 30-million-viewer mark since 1992 when the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Atlanta Braves.
Fox currently pays about $257 million for baseball rights and counts on the World Series to deliver big bucks. The longer a series goes, the better it is for Fox because ratings tend to be higher and it has more advertising inventory to sell.
Last year, according to Nielsen, a 30-second spot in the World Series went for $421,400. The median age of the typical viewer is 52.5.
Fox has signed a new deal with baseball that will see its rights fees almost double starting in 2014. As part of the agreement, Fox has more regular season and postseason games that it can use for its national sports cable channel that could launch in 2013.
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