Despite Low World Series Ratings, Advertisers Still Believe in Baseball

Game 7 Will Help Fox Make Up Shortfalls From Ratings Guarantees

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With the World Series poised to be one of the least-watched in history, Fox could use all the help it can get. And tonight's game just might be it.

As the showdown between Kansas City Royals and San Francisco Giants stretches into this last game, the network will get an opportunity to make up for any shortfalls in guarantees promised to advertisers.

And despite the ugly ratings, advertisers still believe in baseball.

The first five games of the series were watched by an average of 12.1 million viewers. That number lifts to 12.3 million when accounting for the audience from Fox Deportes.

But Game 6 averaged 13.4 million viewers and an 8.1 rating among adults 18-to-49, making it the most watched game of the series so far. One ratings point is equivalent to one percent of TV households. Through game 6, the series averaged 12.3 million viewers. That number is lifted to 12.5 million when accounting for Fox Deportes.

While several media buyers said their clients have received make-goods in the series, having both a game 6 and game 7 is expected to allow Fox to come out whole for most advertisers.

Lackluster ratings don't necessarily come as a surprise, as baseball has been on a downward trajectory. And having a team from a smaller market like Kansas City doesn't help matters either.

The World Series was also up against tough competition over the weekend, airing alongside both football and AMC's "The Walking Dead."

The title for the least-watched World Series is currently held by the 2012 match-up between the San Francisco Giants and Texas Rangers, which averaged 12.7 million viewers. In fact, no World Series since the 2004 matchup between Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals has averaged more than 20 million viewers.

Despite softness in ratings in recent World Series, advertisers have been willing to continue to spend on the game. It cost advertisers about $520,000 for a 30-second spot in this year's series, according to media buyers.

"It is still a large rating; live sports, and extended series always have the opportunity for bigger numbers," a media buyer said. " We would certainly like to see the price come down, but there is still value in live games."

Compared to typical prime-time audiences, the World Series still delivers a decent rating. While the 8.0 rating Game 1 pulled may have been the lowest ever for a Game 1 in any World Series, few programs these days achieve an 8.0 rating, period, another buyer pointed out.

Still, some media buyers view the sport as passé. "Baseball in general is a bit older and just not a high-priority sport anymore," a third buyer said.

The worst case scenario for Fox would have been a sweep. The Giants' sweep of Detroit in 2012 cost Fox as much as $115.8 million in potential ad sales, according to Kantar Media.

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