The Nielsen television ratings are in, and the Royals/Mets World Series this year proved to be a huge winner for FOX, giving them a rare victory in the ratings. Overall the series averaged a 10.1 rating nationwide or 14.7 million viewers, up 26% over the first five games of last year's series, and a 6% increase over the Royals/Giants seven-game series overall. Comparing the first five games, this year's World Series was the most-watched series since 2009 when the Yankees faced the Phillies.
The Game Five series clincher on Sunday night drew a 11.7 rating or 17.2 million viewers, the most a World Series Game Five has drawn since 2003 with the Yankees against the Marlins. Ratings were helped by insane ratings in Kansas City, where 80% of all televisions turned on in the metro area were tuned in to watch the Royals. It is the largest ratings in any one market since Phoenix tuned in to watch the Diamondbacks win Game 7 of the 2001 World Series. Game 5 of the 2015 World Series drew a 25.5 in the New York market. Game One also had strong ratings, earning the highest Game One ratings in six years for the extra-inning affair.
World Series ratings were helped by having the large market New York Mets involved, as well as the rabid fanbase in Kansas City. It helped to have two fresh new contenders battling for a championship and the games were compelling with fresh young stars. While thrilled with the results, FOX executive aredownplaying the national ratings.
As baseball fandom has become more locally focused, the national television ratings for the World Series have become, frankly, less useful as an indicator of the general health of the game. This year, ratings for World Series Games 1 through 5 increased by +21% over the comparable games last year, and all of us at FOX Sports are pleased with the strong numbers, but does anyone really believe that there are 21% more baseball fans in America than there were a year ago? Or 24% fewer fans than there were in 2009 when the Yankees last played in the World Series? World Series ratings fluctuate annually based on factors including the perceived quality of the matchup, the length of the series and the scores of the games, and those variations make the World Series ratings an unreliable guide. The more useful metrics are those rooted in a broader sample of local fan behavior, such as RSN ratings (10 MLB clubs rank No. 1 in prime time in their markets during the regular season) or game attendance (the last 10 seasons of Major League Baseball rank as the 10 strongest seasons ever for ticket sales).
The more localized statistics make it abundantly clear that the connection between each MLB team and its home market is powerful and enduring. Once the game is viewed through this lens, each World Series becomes not only a championship event of interest to sports fans nationally, but also a once-in-a-generation expression of the intense bond that connects team to city and fan to fan.
The Royals were tops in the league in local television ratings, so the evidence seems clear that Royals fans love watching Royals baseball.