Rays' World Series clinching game draws 13.4-million viewers; the highest-rated baseball game in cable TV history
The Tampa Bay Rays World Series clinching game Sunday against the Boston Red Sox drew the largest audience for any baseball game in the history of cable TV, attracting 13.4-million viewers, according to TBS.
The broadcast was also the top-rated telecast in TBS history, the second most-watched telecast on cable this year and the most watched game on network or cable TV during the 2008 baseball season, according to TBS, citing preliminary figures provide by Nielsen Media Research.
Viewer totals on individual cities were not yet available, but 967,000 households watched the game in Boston, compared to 491,000 households in the Tampa-St. Petersburg market (because a household can have any number of residents, the viewer totals take more time). NBC won't have viewer totals for Sunday's Seattle Seahawks/Tampa Bay Buccaneers game until Tuesday morning.
The total viewership outrated the 10-million viewers who watched the 1998 Chicago Cubs-St. Louis Cardinals game in which home run king Mark McGwire tied the major league baseball single season home run record.
But even as TBS officials celebrate the record-setting viewership, critics warn that a World Series featuring the Tampa Bay rays could bring the lowest ratings for the game in recent history.
Some cite the smaller size of the area’s TV market, with the Tampa Bay area ranked 13th nationwide compared to Boston, which ranks as the 7th largest market. Others say the Rays have no big national name on their roster and no big national fan base.
TBS figures lend weight to that argument – household ratings in Boston were nearly twice those in the Tampa Bay area Sunday (40.1 rating, compared to 27 rating). But a spokesman for the channel urged against drawing too many conclusions, noting “you never know when a team might be ready to take hold nationally."
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day13.4 Million Viewers Watch the Seventh and Deciding Game – Making it the Most Watched Baseball Game in Cable History
Red Sox-Rays Also the Most-Watched Baseball Game Across
Broadcast and Cable during the 2008 Regular Season and Postseason
TBS wrapped up its 2008 MLB Postseason coverage with a classic. The seventh and deciding game of the American League Championship Series (ALCS) between the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays delivered a 7.9 US HH Rating, making it the most-watched MLB game on all of television for the 2008 regular season and postseason, according to preliminary data from Nielsen Media Research.
The series-clinching game, which propelled the Rays into their first World Series, garnered 13,357,000 total viewers, making it the most-watched game in the history of cable. The game eclipsed the 1998 ESPN Chicago Cubs-St. Louis Cardinals game that featured Mark McGwire hitting his 61st homerun (which tied what was then an MLB single-season home run record).
“Record-breaking performances, extraordinary viewership and tremendous growth across all key demos added up to a winning formula for our coverage of the ALCS,” said David Levy, president of Turner Sports. “The Red Sox and Rays treated baseball fans to a classic ALCS and viewers made it a point to tune in to watch this tremendous series. The sports television landscape continues to evolve and what we witnessed during our ALCS coverage is that on any given night cable programming outdelivers programming on broadcast networks."
For the seven-game series, TBS averaged a 4.6 US HH Rating and 7,443,000 Total Viewers. The 2008 ALCS earned 96% more persons 18-34 and 83% more persons 18-49 than the 2007 National League Championship Series (NLCS), which was also carried by TBS. Ratings averages for the 2008 ALCS Series were:
US HH Rating: 4.6
Persons 2+: 7,443,000
Total Households: 5,316,000
P 25-54: 3,543,000
Boston DMA: the ALCS averaged a 26.1 rating in this market
Tampa Bay - St. Petersburg DMA: delivered 20.2 rating in this market
Additional Game 7 Highlights:
Game 7 was the top-rated telecast in the history of TBS.
Ranks among the top 10 sports most-watched cable telecasts all-time.
The game was the second most-watched telecast on cable this year.
Game 7 was also the top-rated regular season and postseason MLB game on all of television this year (the MLB All-Star game was the top overall baseball telecast in 2008).
2008 ALCS versus the 2007 NLCS Series carried by TBS
US HH Rating: +64%
Persons 2+: +73%
Total Households: +66%