What if They Threw a World Series and No One Watched

Ryan HoganCorrespondent IOctober 21, 2008

From the moment the Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Boston Red Sox to win the American League Pennant and the right to face the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series, everyone with a column or blog has been predicting the same thing: The television ratings for this World Series will be the lowest of all-time.
"You could hear the groans coming up because it isn't the Red Sox-Dodgers," said Aaron Cohen, chief media negotiator for ad buyer Horizon Media.

Television ratings have nothing to do with anyone’s enjoyment of the game. No one gets up and leaves the ballpark—or their couch for that matter—because the numbers for the 18-to-35-year old demo are low. 

Baseball fans will tune in and watch this World Series because they like baseball, and for some because the Yankees and the Red Sox aren’t in it. Fans have watched the Phillies and Rays all year and know both teams deserve to be in the World Series, regardless of what Madison Avenue says.

As for Fox, does anyone care if they have to suffer through a poorly rated World Series? Wouldn’t losing a little revenue be fitting for the network that gave us Don't Forget the Lyrics!, Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader, and American Idol?

"I'm not on a cell phone hanging off the ledge of a building," says Ed Goren, president of News Corp.'s Fox Sports. "It's a little premature.''

Besides, the ads are all paid for and if the series goes six or seven, Fox will be fine. 

If you’re worried about MLB, don’t be. In 2006, the Tigers-Cardinals played in the lowest rated World Series of all-time and yet baseball survived. Last year’s Red Sox sweep of the Rockies was second-lowest rated series of all-time, and yet the Fall Classic returned.

Even if this World Series tops them all by being lowest of them all, MLB on television isn’t going anywhere—at least not like it did for the NHL and the Stanley Cup. You won’t see the World Series on Versus next year, or worse yet, on TBS.

However, don’t blame the Philadelphia Phillies or the Tampa Bay Rays for the low ratings. They are the fourth and 13th-largest media markets in the United States. 

Instead blame low ratings on Major League Baseball. MLB needs to start promoting more than just six or seven teams throughout the course of its season.