Last Tuesday marked the opening game of the 2014 World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Kansas City Royals. It also happened to be the lowest-rated Game 1 in World Series history, drawing only 12.2 million viewers.
Once a highly-anticipated national event, viewership of the World Series has seen a somewhat steady decline since the 1985 series, which was the last time the Royals played for the championship. Last week, more people tuned in to watch television shows like NCIS: New Orleans, The Big Bang Theory and The Walking Dead than any of the games between the Giants and the Royals, according to The New York Times. The regular season college football game between Florida State University and Notre Dame the weekend before even had better ratings than the Word Series.
The two teams playing in this year’s matchup could be part of the problem. Kansas City is not a large TV market for Major League Baseball, and the Royals don’t have any big name players that attract national attention.
Another contributing factor is that there is simply more competition for viewership. Both cable and Netflix have provided television viewers with more viewing options and more ways to watch shows than ever before, and other shows are winning the battle.
Despite the disappointing ratings from this year’s World Series, it hasn’t deterred advertisers from buying ad spots. And although viewership was not great for the first few games, the extended series is a major bonus. With the series tied at 3-3 after the Royals beat the Giants last night, tonight’s game carries even more weight for fans and is likely to attract a big television crowd.
“Viewership all depends on what time the game airs; if its after 10, you’ll miss some viewership. There are so many other great shows that are on TV right now so there’s going to be more competition,” says Milena Lyons, Creative Director at CMG Creative. “Sports still have a very strong presence on TV, even if viewership has decreased. This is something that advertisers need to keep in mind.”
This year is Fox’s first time broadcasting the event through a contract that gives the company exclusive broadcasting rights through the year 2021. For Fox, the series has actually provided a boost, even though viewership hasn’t been great. Senior vice president of programs for Fox Sports Mike Mulvihill says that “the ratings are exactly where we thought they would be,” according to The New York Times. Ratings for Fox’s prime time line up this year have suffered from a significant decline, and the World Series has helped them earn back top ratings for this time slot.