World Series Ratings Hit All-Time Low

After five games of the 2014 World Series, the San Francisco Giants have a 3-2 lead over the Kansas City Royals. Despite the excitement of the series headed to a sixth game, this World Series has seen historically low TV ratings, on pace for potentially having the lowest ratings of all time.

There are a number of factors contributing to this decline. The most apparent is the declining TV ratings for baseball as a whole. World Series ratings have been steadily declining since they began recording ratings for the event in 1973.

In the 1970s, there was no World Series that drew in less than 29 million viewers. Since 2005, there has not been a Series to see over 20 million viewers. The American audience is falling away from baseball and moving towards other things.

Despite baseball being our “national pastime,” football has clearly overtaken the title of America’s most popular sport. It will be a real problem for incoming MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred.

This past Sunday night, a regular season match up between two non-rivals, the Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints, drew more viewers than Game 5 of the World Series. Baseball has become a fun placeholder during the summertime to hold most sports fans over until fall and the return of football, with both college and professional football seemingly garnering more time on major media outlets such as ESPN.

Another reason this World Series’ rating is even lower than recent years is because of the two teams playing this year. The Giants are a traditional franchise and have been successful recently, winning titles in 2010 and 2012, so one would think that they would draw a large audience.

However, this has not been the case, as ratings from 2010 and 2012 show that the Giants are not a team that generate many viewers. Even though they play in the popular Bay Area, they have to share that market with the Oakland A’s, taking away from local viewers.

The Royals have been the Cinderella story of this post season. Prior to this year, they hadn’t made the playoffs since winning the 1985 World Series. They snuck into the playoffs as the second wild card team and never looked back.

The Royals won eight games in a row, beating the Oakland A’s, Detroit Tigers and Baltimore Orioles en route to the World Series.

While Kansas City is certainly fired up about their Royals being back in the playoffs and this crazy run they are on, from a ratings perspective it is still a small market team.

Despite all of the local excitement around this team, the number of viewers you will get out of Kansas City is going to be far fewer than the number out of a city the size of New York or Chicago.

Not only do these teams play in less than ideal markets, but they are also lacking the star players and exciting styles that generate viewers outside of their markets. Going into the playoffs, you could argue that the biggest star on either of these teams is Buster Posey.

While Posey is a great player, he is a quiet, humble guy and isn’t going to generate any kind of a ratings boost. With Matt Cain being on the disabled list and Tim Lincecum’s decline, Madison Bumgarner is the only pitcher in the series who you would have called truly great before the playoffs.

While he has been having a historically good postseason this year, there are still tons of casual sports fans that have never heard of him.

On the other side, the Royals are a team full of young, up-and-coming players with no one player to consider a “star.”

Neither of these teams plays a style that would attract more viewers and neither team has a great power hitter. Both teams pitch well, play great defense and play small ball on offense where they bunt and steal bases a lot.

In San Francisco’s case, their best power hitter, Pablo Sandoval, doesn’t have a home run all postseason and their best hitter, Buster Posey, doesn’t have an extra-base hit.

Lastly, four of these first five games haven’t been close. With the exception of the Royals 3-2 win in Game 3, the other four games have been decided by five runs or more.

When the games are closer, more casual fans will be inclined to continue watching the game or flip over to it.

Hopefully, Game 6 is an exciting game and the Royals can force a Game 7, otherwise we could see this series go down as the least watched World Series of all time.