UPDATE: 5:21 p.m. EST -- The final Nielsen numbers are in, and Game 5 pulled in 17.2 million viewers total, confirming that it is indeed the highest-rated Game 5 since 2009.
The not-so-mighty Metropolitans of New York fell to Kansas City in the fifth game of the World Series last night, and while the Fox broadcasting network would have loved this to go to seven games, today the hangover isn't so bad. The fifth game of the 2015 series garnered 16 million viewers according to Nielsen’s fast national ratings, well above the 12.6 million of last year's fifth game in the Giants-Royals series, and likely the highest-rated Game 5 since the 2009 Yankees-Phillies slug-fest.
That Nielsen ratings number is preliminary and may be revised as all the markets report numbers, but for a series that began with a technical glitch that led to a six-minute blackout, this one turned out pretty well for Fox, particularly since the equivalent of an entire extra game was played due to extra innings; Game 1 went five beyond the usual nine, and Game 5 went over three. If you’re an ad sales exec at the Fox broadcasting network, your thoughts are running along the lines of, “Hey, it could’ve been worse.”
Although a seven-game series would’ve been more profitable for the network, the Mets-Royals brawl provided more than enough ad inventory for the network to break even: Fox said it had already sold a record amount of inventory for those games at a reported $545,000 per 30-second ad.
While a fluke electrical outage in Game 1 took the Fox feed offline, and the network was forced to switch over to MLB International’s game feed for around 25 minutes, viewers only missed one at-bat while Fox techs scrambled to make the switch. The snafu made for some fun Twitter jokes and memes, and some probable indigestion for fans and execs alike, but if you’re talking about numbers, there’s no evidence of damage done: Game 1 still outrated last year’s Giants-Royals 7-1 blowout by a million and a half viewers, despite a witching-hour 14-inning finish, and all of the ads sold in that game ran as scheduled. No harm, no foul ball.
The rest of the five games went off without a technical hitch for the network. (Not so much for the error-prone Mets.) Of course, having another game or two would have been at least a hundred-or-so-million-dollar bonus for the Fox crew, as the network can charge a premium for the extra time.
But the network doesn’t sell ads in those games in advance, and a real problem only comes with a sweep: for instance, the Giants’ four-game trouncing of the Detroit Tigers in 2012, which can be catastrophic for ratings. The 2012 Series was the lowest-rated in MLB history.