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Last night’s game beat the NFL in the ratings

Oct 24, 2011, 10:36 AM EDT

old TV

There is much surprise and discussion among the commetariat that Game 4 of the World Series topped Sunday Night Football last night. Preliminary results have baseball drawing a 10.1 in the ratings, the Saints-Colts an 8.2.*

But before we get lost in jocularity, let me just say that if the ratings didn’t matter when baseball was routinely getting beat — which I truly believed to be the case — they shouldn’t matter simply because baseball beat football on one random occasion.  Especially given that the football game was out of hand before the end of the first quarter. I mean, I realize that the NFL is popular and everything, but a rerun of the “What’s Goin’ Down” episode of “That’s My Mama” could have won last night.

But the bigger point is that it doesn’t matter. It’s still apples and oranges even if the fruits change roles on occasion. Baseball gets better ratings when a series builds like this one is building. People’s tolerance for football does have its limits even if we rarely reach it.  There is no real meaning here. It’s just a thing that happened.


*Full disclosure: I have no idea what the ratings points mean. I used to know before everything got converted to Euros, but now it’s all a mystery to me. Let’s say that those numbers measure hectares. Yes, I like that. The baseball game rated 10.1 hectares.

  1. notsofast10 - Oct 24, 2011 at 10:46 AM

    34-7 at Halftime, and 56-7 at the end of the 3rd??? Who wants to watch that?? I would take the WS over that anytime!

    • Old Gator - Oct 24, 2011 at 12:05 PM

      Craig, whom we all know to be an astute analyst of football but keeps that well hidden to protect his image as a baseball guy to avoid alienating his constituency (as, say, Richard Nixon kept tightly under wraps that he was a fan of James Joyce for the same reason), has cleverly left out how well aware he is that the Colts are so bad this year that nobody watches them.

    • natstowngreg - Oct 24, 2011 at 6:50 PM

      The networks scheduled the Colts for one reason: Peyton Manning. No Peyton Manning, Colts stink, fans who aren’t rooting for the Colts or their opponent don’t watch.

  2. mornelithe - Oct 24, 2011 at 10:47 AM

    If you’re going to compare sports games, why not compare the regular season to the regular season, and post season to the post season? Seems pretty obvious that the WS would post higher viewership than a regular season football game…

    • drmonkeyarmy - Oct 24, 2011 at 10:50 AM

      Yeah, but the point is that the WS does not routinely beat regular season football. Furthermore, if the football game wasn’t as ass kicking last night, football probably would have gotten more viewers.

  3. sknut - Oct 24, 2011 at 10:53 AM

    Fair point Craig, but for all the people that write that baseball isn’t popular blah blah blah..won’t be pointing this out today.

    • comeonnowguys - Oct 24, 2011 at 12:05 PM

      No, they’ll be pointing it out as an example of how bad the matchup last night.

      “That game was such a joke, BASEBALL beat it.”

  4. sdelmonte - Oct 24, 2011 at 10:54 AM

    Clearly the Colts were also watching the World Series. Why else would they not show up?

    • Francisco (FC) - Oct 24, 2011 at 12:37 PM

      They haven’t shown up in months actually.

  5. kopy - Oct 24, 2011 at 10:55 AM

    There’s typically two measure of ratings. If it’s the one I think it is, the number is the percentage of TVs that were tuned into the game at any given time. So if somebody was watching the football game until it got out of hand, they’d still count towards the football rating. Somebody flipping back and forth a lot would count towards both.*

    *I think. At least I’m pretty sure, anyway.

    • kopy - Oct 24, 2011 at 10:59 AM

      By “TVs”, I mean “households with TVs”. If you have 4 TVs in your house, and are watching it on 1, that counts as 100% for your household, not 25%.

  6. The Dangerous Mabry - Oct 24, 2011 at 11:08 AM

    C’mon, Craig. I think EVERYONE would have tuned in for a chance to see Randy Watson as Joe the Policeman.

  7. halladaysbiceps - Oct 24, 2011 at 11:19 AM

    The higher the TV ratings for a given show generally = what stupid Americans are watching. However, in this case it’s clear what happened. The Colts don’t have Peyton Manning because he’s hurt and the team sinks. Texas and St. Louis are playing in the World Series, and it’s a decent series. No one knows what’s going to happen and people are curious.

    I guarantee you if this was a Cowboys/Eagles game, it would have blown the WS out of the water, ratings wise.

    • vintage1496 - Oct 24, 2011 at 11:26 AM

      … yea, because nothing says “high tv ratings” like two teams without winning records playing each other.

      • halladaysbiceps - Oct 24, 2011 at 11:30 AM

        The Cowboys and Eagles could each be 0-6 and they would get twice as many viewers than any World Series baseball game, just because of the shear size of their fan bases. There are more Cowboy fans nationwide than any other sports franchise. And the Eagles have a large contingent of fans as well. More fans = higher ratings.

        Indianapolis without Manning and New Orleans don’t have those type of fan bases. Bottom line.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Oct 24, 2011 at 11:36 AM

        Kinda like this one, where one team(Dallas) was 4-8 and the other(Philly) was 8-4…

        Only the biggest ratings in the history of Sunday Night Football

        16.5 rating bigger than any world series game since the game 4 clincher in 2004 where Boston probably made up 90% of the total rating of 18.4

        Next time you want to be snarky, you should check the facts. Isn’t that what everyone here usually does?

      • drmonkeyarmy - Oct 24, 2011 at 12:15 PM

        One of the many reasons why I like Chris….he brings the facts. Once again, thank you for coming up with those articles over on PBT.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Oct 24, 2011 at 12:54 PM

        Thank you dr…I actually enjoyed going through all the Bron-Bron fanboy posts, especially when those nuts were trying to make him out to be this “middle of the road” guy. That’s like saying I am a “middle of the road” Phillies fan. LOL.

      • kellyb9 - Oct 24, 2011 at 12:54 PM

        Doesn’t really matter what the records are. I think Cepts was pointing out if the game was either a competitive one or if it was a more widely regarded rivalry, it would have beat baseball in ratings.

  8. Chris Fiorentino - Oct 24, 2011 at 11:19 AM

    The World Series ratings the last two years have been pathetic. There’s really no other way to describe them except pathetic. Without the Yankees in there, with so much animosity for and against the Borg, America just doesn’t give a crap.

  9. philsieg - Oct 24, 2011 at 12:49 PM

    Football owes its popularity to two factors. One is gambling. It’s by far the easiest team sport for the casual player to wager on. From office pools to on-line betting sites, a bettor needs only a rudimentary knowledge of the game to wager on point spreads, quarter-by-quarter scoring and the like. That it’s a made-for-TV “game” only facilitates this.

    The second is the ability for the “fan” to experience violence vicariously in a socially acceptable manner. The increase in the culture of violence that permeates football correlates well with the decline in popularity of boxing. As it became increasingly unacceptable to enjoy watching two people beat the mortal hell out of each other, football stepped in to fill that void for a society in which violence is part of the fabric. It’s a modern version of gladiatorial combat coated in a thin veneer of macho jingoism.

    Baseball offers neither of these ‘pursuits”, at least in nowhere near the degree that football does. The sheer number of games and the unpredictability of outcomes for even the best teams and players make wagering difficult for the average gambler (i.e. not Pete Rose). And while violence occasionally happens (see Posey, Buster), it is incidental to the action, not the main intent.

    Remove or modify these factors from football and the fan base – and TV ratings – will shrink precipitously. Just a guess, but I would think the hard-core fan base for baseball is both larger and more firmly entrenched than that for football. It’s the casual fans that are there for the above reasons that drive the numbers.

    • ftbramwell - Oct 24, 2011 at 2:07 PM

      Boxing’s failure was more likely do to the fact that the sport decided to go to a pay-per-view format, alienating too many fans from the sport, than it was some sort of societal disapproval of the sport.

      I agree 100% with you concerning the gambling element of football, and I’ll add a third reason for football’s popularity.

      In football, there is significant action on every play. However, each play lasts a minute or two, followed by another minute or two of inactivity. Makes it very easy for a viewer to watch intently, then talk to his buddy, then watch intently, then get a beer, then watch intently . . .

      • philsieg - Oct 24, 2011 at 3:22 PM

        When I was a boy in the ’50s, boxing was the second most popular sport in the country based on fan following (behind baseball and ahead of horse racing). The rise of Muhammed Ali covered the decline in popularity through the Vietnam Era. But after that, boxing began a free fall long before cable pay-per-view came along. The rise in deaths and disabling injuries and the more extensive coverage those got in the mainstream sporting press created a less-than-approving attitude in a fairly large swath of the population.

        In addition, boxing had been a rung up on the ladder for minorities back to the 19th century – the Irish, African-Americans, and then Latinos. By the ’70s, more options had opened up in sports and entertainment rendering the boxing “gateway” unnecessary. It’s true that pay-per-view didn’t help, but long before that boxing had declined from it’s heyday when Gillette sponsored the Friday Night Fight on the budding medium of television.

  10. airedale1950 - Oct 24, 2011 at 5:01 PM

    Truthfully, all real American men know that it isn’t Football season until Baseball’s World Series is finished.
    If I’m not mistaken it was decreed by Jesus and the God of Beer….

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