Rays may nail World Series, but will they sink TV ratings?
First, some commentators keep saying the Rays are from Tampa, instead of St. Petersburg. Then TBS screws up and drops the first 20 minutes of Saturday's game, forcing fans back to their radios as if we really were stuck in another Great Depression.
Now, some sports media analysts are already predicting the worst TV ratings in recent World Series history, just because our Rays are based in a TV market a few sizes smaller than Boston. Or because the Rays have no big national names on their roster. Or because they have no big national fan base (this link also has detailed viewership information on the World Series through history).
True enough, a Boston-L.A. matchup would have featured teams from the nation's seventh and second largest TV markets, compared to the 4th and 13th largest in Philadelphia and Tampa Bay. But these stories -- and they always come whenever marquee teams such as the Red Sox lose playoff bids -- bear the stink of big city snobbery; a journalistically acceptable way of saying "how did THOSE rubes win?"
TVbytheNumbers.com says no baseball series which does not feature the New York Yankees or Red Sox has averaged more than 20-million viewers per telecast since 2000. But the last Red Sox matchup against the Colorado Rockies only averaged 17-million and the last Yankees matchup with the Florida Marlins barely cracked 20-million.
More likely, the increased diversification of media has dipped into series viewership, as some fans find new ways to access information about the World Series online.
Seeing how the Rays have defied all the conventional wisdom about baseball success, I wouldn't be surprised if ratings for their World Series beat the odds, too.