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The World Series continues to get poor ratings

Oct 25, 2013, 9:05 PM EDT

old TV

Major League Baseball has had ratings problems in recent years and that has continued during the World Series. The website Sports Media Watch writes that Game 2 of the World Series on Thursday night got the third-worst overnight ratings ever, ahead of last year’s Game 2 between the Giants and Tigers, as well as the Phillies and Rays in 2008.

They add that Games 1 and 2 between the Cardinals and Red Sox thus far earned a single-digit overnight for the second time in history, joining Games 1 and 2 between the Tigers and Giants in 2012.

There are a lot of reasons why the World Series is struggling and it’s not a problem that can realistically be addressed in one fell swoop. Some of it has to do with the scarcity of baseball games, some of it has to do with the pace, some with the culture surrounding the game, and that’s just the start. It seems like an issue that will need to be addressed by whoever takes over as commissioner of Major League Baseball once Bud Selig retires following the 2014 season.

113 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. lolnfl - Oct 25, 2013 at 9:07 PM

    speed the pitchers up…every pitch takes forever with some of these guys…take the rule to speed up pitchers more seriously.

    • rje49 - Oct 25, 2013 at 9:43 PM

      The pitchers are waiting for the batters to fix their gloves after every pitch! Why can’t they invent a batting glove that stays tight for more than one pitch – swing or not?

      • km9000 - Oct 26, 2013 at 12:04 AM

        Do gloves even loosen up after a swing? I’m pretty sure they tighten them even after taking a pitch. I fear for the days when hitters call time to adjust their gloves during intentional walks.

    • bendover09 - Oct 25, 2013 at 10:01 PM

      Take gambling out of sports and I guarantee the officials will start seeing again

    • sportsfan18 - Oct 26, 2013 at 8:24 PM

      In the NFL, out of 60 min’s of game action, there is like a total of 11 min’s of actual action (many studies have been done on this by different groups and they are easy to find online).

      Now that was total, that means one teams offense only is in action for like 5 something min’s.

      A play in the NFL takes only around 5 to 6 seconds, then we the fans wait and wait and wait for the next play, about the same amount of time that we wait for the next pitch to be delivered by the way..

      In the NFL, teams have 40 seconds from the end of the previous play to snap the ball, or 25 seconds after administrative stoppages…

      Now, there is more action once the ball is snapped in the NFL as in baseball, many pitches are taken so nothing happens.

      BUT, you mentioned the time between pitches and there are studies about how much time it takes between pitches online for all to go and look up too.

      The average is a bit over 20 seconds between pitches in MLB, which is faster than the time between snaps in the NFL…

  2. alligator8 - Oct 25, 2013 at 9:16 PM

    It will be sad if (when) the double-digit underdog Rams with a no name quarterback (who is even starting this week?) draw higher ratings on Monday Night Football than Game 5 of the World Series, 10 blocks away. As Whitey’s book is titled, You’re Missin’ A Great Game.

  3. Stiller43 - Oct 25, 2013 at 9:19 PM

    Did Craig approve this article?

  4. jimw81 - Oct 25, 2013 at 9:22 PM

    blame it on mlb. common sense tells you dont schedule a world series game on the same night as a NFL and college football game. they are going to run into the same problem sunday night when they go up against nfl game.

    • alligator8 - Oct 25, 2013 at 9:33 PM

      World Series games should take place once a week, only on Tuesdays. I think it’d still be shorter than the NBA playoffs.

      • peterjohnjoseph - Oct 25, 2013 at 9:50 PM

        Well than we’d be seeing the same pitchers in all 7 potential games. Takes all of the gamesmanship out of it. Baseball is meant to be played on short rest by nature. Hence having 162 regular season games.

      • detectivejimmymcnulty - Oct 25, 2013 at 10:03 PM

        ….I think he was kidding.

      • peterjohnjoseph - Oct 25, 2013 at 11:04 PM

        Oh my.. And I’ve been the sarcasm police all week… time to give up the badge. I didn’t even realize who the poster was. Well played.

      • km9000 - Oct 26, 2013 at 12:25 AM

        I do wonder what baseball would be like if it had a season schedule more like the NBA/NHL. Pitching would be tons better so they’d have to find ways to up the offense.

  5. firstand98 - Oct 25, 2013 at 9:24 PM

    not that they’ll ever realistically compete with the NFL (apples/oranges), but if the post-season didn’t drag out so far into the football season i, for one, would probably take more interest. baseball is really the greatest sport. i love the pace, i do enough running around like my hair is on fire during a typical work week that the relaxed pace makes it beautiful. but once my team is knocked out i switch a lot of my attention to college and pro football, hockey & college hoops. IN MY OPINION baseball is better served with an abbreviated post-season schedule. i wonder how the ratings compare to pre-interleague world series games and now.

  6. rcali - Oct 25, 2013 at 9:24 PM

    Well, it’s football season and as much as I love baseball, I’m kind of been done with it for awhile. Hard to care when your team stop playing a month ago and we’re heading into week 8 of the NFL and 9 in College.

  7. peterjohnjoseph - Oct 25, 2013 at 9:25 PM

    Wow. This surprises me if for no other reason than the fact that it features two storied franchises in Boston and St. Louis. Usually Boston sports teams garner large ratings regardless of the sport nationally. Hence last years Stanley Cup Final gaining its largest ratings ever. I know the mystique for the Red Sox wore off after they won in 2004, and then again, in ’07, so I can understand the local drop off, but still, I feel like walking home to home and telling people to wake up.

    Nationally however, this speaks to something much larger about the way baseball is being perceived. The steroid era gained outside interest for all the wrong reasons, and those numbers have steadily declined. This is the aftershock that needs to be dealt with. Board rooms will be stuffed this off season, and every one thereafter filled with every advertising wizkid, marketing director, and positions you never even knew existed, trying to figure this all out.

    • beerstroh - Oct 25, 2013 at 11:05 PM

      Good comments. Maybe FOX TV with Joe Buck and his lack of depth, strike-ball calling and monotonous rehashing of plays has something to do with the lack of viewer interest…

      • peterjohnjoseph - Oct 25, 2013 at 11:54 PM

        I will say this.. I felt like Verlander and Scherzer were literally part of the broadcast team during the ALCS. Every game for multiple innings. They would keep the camera on them until the last second before the pitch was thrown, and then go right back to them. That and they shoved the Alex Avila injury down our throats literally every other batter, like he was America’s Sweetheart.

        Only problem is, no matter what anyone thinks about the commentators, people don’t have a chance to turn the game off if they never turned it on in the first place, and thats the problem here.

  8. cocheese000 - Oct 25, 2013 at 9:28 PM

    Glad it is not my problem to figure out why the ratings are low. I love watching baseball and couldn’t care less how the ratings are.

  9. normcash - Oct 25, 2013 at 9:29 PM

    What’s interesting is that, during the regular season, many teams have outstanding ratings.
    The Tigers games on Fox Sports Detroit are very often the most-watched program during their
    time slots beating out even the broadcast networks’ shows. I tend to think that the lateness
    of the games in the East is a factor. The alleged “slowness” of the games as an explanation
    seems a stretch. People seem not to mind the touchdown-extra point-3 minutes of commercials-
    kick off-three more minutes of commercials routine of NFL games. But the biggest issue is no doubt
    the plethora of choices viewers have today. Evidently casual fans don’t care much about the WS
    if their teams aren’t involved.

    • peterjohnjoseph - Oct 25, 2013 at 9:48 PM

      Detroit actually got extremely good local ratings in the ALCS as well. Higher than Boston’s.

  10. rje49 - Oct 25, 2013 at 9:47 PM

    I’ll bet the younger generation’s phone addiction is worth a few negative rating points. You can’t watch a game on TV if you’re staring down at your phone (or texting) all the time!

  11. thebadguyswon - Oct 25, 2013 at 9:51 PM

    It isn’t PEDs at all. Most fans don’t care much about PEDs – the media does. Drug use is much worse in the NFL but you dont see fans tuning out of football.

    Imo, some of it is the matchup. St. Louis and Boston fans don’t want to hear it, but many otherwise “neutral” fans aren’t interested in this matchup of two very successful franchises. It’s more of the same.

    The other side of the coin is this – if we get a game 6 and 7 next week, a lot of new people will start tuning in.

    • km9000 - Oct 26, 2013 at 12:32 AM

      I think if we were getting Yankees-Cardinals for the third year in a row, I could see it. But the Tigers, despite Verlander and Cabrera didn’t help ratings much last year either.

      Pirates-A’s would’ve been a great story, but I don’t know if that would’ve fared much better with casual sports fans.

      But one thing I like about this year is that these were the best teams in their leagues, and that sort of matchup just doesn’t happen often enough.

      • thebadguyswon - Oct 26, 2013 at 11:31 AM

        I was nauseous when I first knew that was the matchup, but its been a good series. Plus, it has great potential to go all 7 games, which would be pretty awesome, regardless of who wins.

  12. cohnjusack - Oct 25, 2013 at 9:52 PM

    Make it really stupid an obnoxious with more things exploding. America likes that. I bet if you put David Ortiz in a fucking Optimus Prime suit, they’d get 50 million viewers.

  13. thebadguyswon - Oct 25, 2013 at 9:52 PM

    And Bud Selig should have been gone 10 years ago. He’s stuck around and sold the game out to the TV networks.

  14. cohnjusack - Oct 25, 2013 at 9:58 PM

    Bill Baer and Forbes have very different opinions on the ratings:

    Through Two Games Of The 2013 World Series, TV Ratings A Home Run
    Baseball may not have the total attention of the country as it did before the internet, a bazillion television channel offerings, and something called the NFL, but it’s certainly not dying, not by a long shot.

    Witness the first two games of the 2013 World Series.

    Game 2 of the Fall Classic on FOX scored an 8.3/14 national household rating/share and averaged 13.4 million viewers according to Nielsen Media Research. Last night’s game is up 6 percent in rating and 9 percent in viewership over last year’s 7.8/12 (12.3 million viewers) that saw the San Francisco Giants and Detroit Tigers.

    It also shows why networks are willing to pay handsomely for playoff baseball as live programming drives viewership and is the last bastion of the captured audience that prefers sports live to that of it DVRed.

    That being said, I would take the word of Bill Baer over Forbes…cause fuck that rag.

  15. NatsLady - Oct 25, 2013 at 10:06 PM

    I love baseball and have watched or listened to every postseason game, even though my team’s not in it. However, I do feel there is one level too many. I don’t know how this would work, but it seems like it should go Wild Card Play-In, Qualifying Level, World Series. Maybe a round-robin or something for the Qualifying Level.

    It takes too long to get to the main event and you get tired of hearing the same stories, same players/pitchers/managers for a month when they’re not your “own” team.

  16. 6stn - Oct 25, 2013 at 10:07 PM

    Late October, three-hour, nine-inning ballgames. Constant close-ups of players between pitches by a network that’s never gotten it right pertaining to baseball. 40-degree temperatures at game time. Night Games past October 15 should be outlawed. Too much greed, otherwise begin the season April 15, play a lot of double-headers, and if the expanded Seligplayoffs are here to stay, end the season on September 15, finish the World Series by October 12.

  17. flickflint - Oct 25, 2013 at 10:08 PM

    Who cares? Baseball isn’t popular as it was move on we don’t own any teams it’s not our problem. People always need something to complain about. Just enjoy the Series

  18. joecool16280 - Oct 25, 2013 at 10:14 PM


    Yes, the game needs some tweaks here and there but they simply can’t advertise to entice the young folk.

    The attitude of “back in my day” is getting tuned out and no one wants to hear those types.

    New blood is desperately needed or the game we love will slowly fade away.

    • joecool16280 - Oct 25, 2013 at 10:18 PM

      Couldn’t hurt to get some new announcers in there as well. Buck is so forgettable and monotoned and McCarver is just a loon.

      Seriously, Buck is so not interesting. I don’t get why Fox is gaga over him.

      • philliesblow - Oct 25, 2013 at 10:38 PM

        Amen! 1,000 thumbs up for you!

      • NatsLady - Oct 25, 2013 at 11:07 PM

        New announcers–younger announcers–would help a lot.

  19. chill1184 - Oct 25, 2013 at 10:14 PM

    A couple of factors at least in my opinion;

    1. Casual baseball fans wont tune in to the World Series if their team isn’t in it

    1a. If said fan’s football or hockey team is doing well, usually the attention shifts

    2. Some want to see a different match up other than the Cardinals and Red Sox. People like underdogs and dark horses or at the very least the angel does play well. Perhaps ratings might have been better if it was Pirates-A’s or Pirates-Rays

    3. The whole Biogensis and MLB’s handling of it hasn’t done MLB any favors which possibly could’ve tuned out some fans.

    • ckendall27 - Oct 31, 2013 at 8:45 PM

      You say people want “underdog” teams, will can’t have “underdogs” or “cinderellas” EVERY year, can we? Red Sox & Cardinals are two of baseball’s storied franchises; A’s & Pirates had very good teams, but lemme tell you, ratings would’ve been DOWN for that kind of Series. Why can’t people just watch the Series anymore for the entertainment? Do fans always need certain teams or “underdogs” to tune in??

  20. rcm54 - Oct 25, 2013 at 10:16 PM

    Tim McCarver is retiring at the conclusion of the 2013 World Series. Could ratings jump 20% in 2014?? We shall see.

    • philliesblow - Oct 25, 2013 at 10:39 PM

      Hope he takes Joe Suck with him.

  21. Eric Chase. - Oct 25, 2013 at 10:26 PM

    1. the World Series is always measured against the Super Bowl
    2. A one game, winner take all like the Super Bowl would rate well
    3. That game can’t be on a sun or mon because of the nfl even if it existed.
    4. If MLB had a perfect world as the nfl does, one night winner take all, no sports competition, it’d have at least 75 million viewers. At least.

  22. djstat - Oct 25, 2013 at 10:40 PM

    It’s simple. Baseball season is too long. When your team is eliminated your ready for football. Also the playoffs last forever

    • ckendall27 - Oct 31, 2013 at 8:46 PM

      The MLB playoffs last for one MONTH. That’s too long?? Same length as the NFL playoffs. Why doesn’t anyone complain about that then?

  23. Minoring In Baseball - Oct 25, 2013 at 10:41 PM

    Game 1 was a blow out, so maybe some fans thought the series would be, too (which it won’t be). The Cards are good at home, and I see the series going six or seven games. The rating should pick up, especially with the the great games in the league series.

  24. perryt200 - Oct 25, 2013 at 10:47 PM

    I don’t know how the ratings system works. Here the World Series is a social event. Instead of 10 people watching the game on 10 different TV’s it is 10 people watching it on one.

    Instead of watching a regular season game at home, on WS night you head to the bar with big screen TV’s.

    I guess what I am saying is TV ratings may not be the best measure. StL had over 3.3 mil people in the seats this year.

  25. FinFan68 - Oct 25, 2013 at 11:12 PM

    Baseball is a great game and when it has drama/tension it is really fun to watch. That said, on TV it looks like a bunch of OCD guys standing on the grass, grabbing their crotch and spitting for 80% of the telecast. There are certain guys I can’t stand to watch.

    The younger generations just don’t seem to have the attention span for baseball. After 5 – 10 seconds they are bored and off to something else (phones). The OCD rituals between every pitch don’t help much either.

    • km9000 - Oct 26, 2013 at 12:13 AM

      I wonder if players could be convinced to pick up their pace if they realized that bloated games hurt fan interest, and if interest dwindles, it means less money for the players. Of course, it’d be a long-term problem, so current players wouldn’t care. But MLB’s higher-ups should probably start addressing it sooner rather than later.

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