Regular-season football beats World Series baseball in overnight ratings

On the occasions when NFL football has found itself pitted against World Series baseball in the past, baseball’s championship round always has won. 

Until Sunday night.

Darren Rovell of CNBC reports that the overnight ratings for Sunday night reflect a victory by football over baseball. 

The Saints-Steelers game on NBC generated an 11.8.  The pivotal fourth game of the Fall Classic managed a 10.4.

We’ll explain what the numbers mean once the final numbers are out.  Bottom line?  If the pinnacle of the baseball season can’t beat a run-of-the-mill midseason football game, there can be no doubt that football is the new American pastime.

57 responses to “Regular-season football beats World Series baseball in overnight ratings

  1. NBA basketball is also more popularer than that stickball game. Don’t rely on stats for that info. though, it just is.

  2. I wouldn’t call it a ‘run of the mill’ mid-season game. Steelers always have a big draw, and the Saints are popular now too. It was too good teams that played a close game until late in the fourth quarter.
    But, I’m not surprised that SNF beat the Series. Football is gaining popularity, MLB is losing it.

  3. That really wasn’t a ‘run-of-the-mill’ midseason football game. That was a great match-up and the NFL knew exactly what they were doing when they put that one on the schedule. Plus, it was Madison Bumgarner vs. Tommy Hunter. Bumgarner’s going to be great, but he’s not exactly a household name just yet.

  4. This is what happens when the Yankees don’t make it to the series. I don’t even like the Yankees and I know this is true.

  5. The World Series? Is that still televised?
    Pivotal fourth game? What happened in the first three? For that matter, who’s playing?

  6. I wouldn’t call that game run of the mill. The Steelers were battling to remain with the best record in the AFC (Along with my Pats) and the Saints were trying to rebound from an awful loss.
    That game was anything but.
    Now if The Lions played the Skins on Sunday night it would be run of the mill. (No offense to either franchises fans.)

  7. Im more surprised football didnt win by more. That was a great matchup. If any other big media market team is in the World Series, they definitely would’ve won. Bumgarner? No casual fan is watching that.

  8. Baseball is just too slow for average the 21st century sports fan.
    That’s a criticism of both baseball AND the anemic American attention span (of which I am totally guilty). Like it or not, football offers two things that Americas desperately want:
    – Copious amounts of violence and general havoc
    – Instant gratification, once every 40 seconds.
    Baseball has neither…

  9. For me personally, I find FOX’s coverage, in particular the commentating dual of Buck and McCarver absolutely intolerable. I like football more than baseball anyway, but I would probably rather watch 2 horrible football teams on SNF than watch the World Series on FOX.

  10. Put Game 4 against Carolina vs St Louis or Redskins @ Lions and the rating would be different. Stop blowing the company you work for, like Tim Tebow’s Prayers said previously, the league hand-picked that game to go up against the World Series.

  11. Bottom Line: No Yankees, no ratings (going against football). The only way the MLB game match up last night beats the NFL is if the NFL featured the Cardinals vs. Seattle.

  12. Baseball without a salary cap is unwatchable. Who cares if the yankees can buy themselves in the playoffs every year.
    I stopped being a die hard fan after the 94 strike. I will only watch the post season if my team is in it…. otherwise i don’t care
    NFL and the NBA have passed MLB up… but hey, look at the bright side, at least MLB isnt as doomed as the NHL. That is REALLY a dying league

  13. The two teams in the World Series being the Texas Rangers and the San Francisco Giants might have something to do with it, no?
    If the Yankees, Red Sox, and/or the Phillies were playing, I’d think that the numbers would be a tad bit different.

  14. I went back and forth between the games, but settled on the Saints-Steelers.
    Baseball lost me back in ’94, and with the exception of my beloved RedSox, baseball will never win me back over the NFL.
    Assuming of course, that there is no lockout in 2011.

  15. “Baseball without a salary cap is unwatchable. ”
    Unless you are a fan of one of the 5-8 teams who can buy their way to the playoffs every year, no one cares about MLB.

  16. Baseball is a joke. Most of the League Championship Series games aren’t even on networks anymore, they’re on cable. Another decade, and the MLB will be on VS. or the Outdoor Life Network.

  17. If it was Yankees/Phillies or maybe Red Sox/Cubs it might have been close. But any other teams, please.
    SF/Texas is probably hitting the lowest WS ratings ever.

  18. Get a life, Florio. We obviously all love football here, but your baseball bashing comes off as really lame and insecure.
    Notice that the NFL made sure last night that the last 2 Super Bowl champions were playing and that it was a matchup between two cities that don’t have a Major League baseball team, New Orleans and Pittsburgh, so that there would be no chance of a conflict between baseball and football fans in the same market.
    Now, if you really want a fair comparison, let’s see the NFL schedule a Patriots-Eagles game World Series week next year (if there’s a season, of course) and have the Red Sox and Phillies playing in the World Series and see who wins the ratings battle.
    Promise, it would be MLB that wins that, and I speak as someone who likes baseball and loves football. So, please stop with this. It reflects really poorly on you and PFT.

  19. “For me personally, I find FOX’s coverage, in particular the commentating dual of Buck and McCarver absolutely intolerable. I like football more than baseball anyway, but I would probably rather watch 2 horrible football teams on SNF than watch the World Series on FOX.”
    Absolutely true……..I can not agree with this post more…

  20. Like others have said…this was simply not a run of the mill matchup. The Steelers are one of the biggest draws in the league and the Saints are an attractive team coming off the Super Bowl. The game, while low-scoring, was close at all times, and it still barely beat the World Series which featured two non-descript starters going at it in a 4-0 game. You are way off here Florio.

  21. You had two teams that nobody cares about facing off in the World Series. If the Yankees or Red Sox had been playing, it would have been different.
    Look we all know that football is more popular than baseball nowadays. Even baseball exectives would tell you that. You want to make the point though that a regular football game could draw more than a World Series baseball game, well that depends on the teams playing. If baseball has two boring teams playing in that series, then most people will watch football instead just because we like the football product better.

  22. Was there any doubt that the NFL was America’s Pastime before this?
    I enjoy both sports, and understand the dynamics of why things are the way they are.
    However, I have watched this World Series more because the usual suspects aren’t there.
    …and if the revenue system in MLB remains the same I expect MLB’s decline to increase. Also, the state of Texas is supposed to be the fastest growing state in the next 20 years. Rumors of a record breaking deal between FSN and the Rangers have ran rampant. You just might see the Rangers be able to spend on a level with the other big spenders in the coming years.

  23. Baseball will always be America’s pastime, because that’s exactly what you’re doing when you’re watching it: passing the time. Football, however, is America’s passion.

  24. It’s Texas vs. San Fran, no one east of the Mississippi River cares. Plus they league put a good match-up together for Sunday night.
    Oh and taste it Steelers.

  25. Bottom Line? The bottom line is the two teams in the world series are ones that no one cares about. San Francisco? Texas?
    It’s no wonder baseball doesn’t want to adopt parity and a salary cap the way football has. Without the big spenders (and by that I mean: teams that are popular outside of their home states) baseball’s ratings would be terrible.

  26. It wasn’t a run-of-the-mill midseason football game, Florio. Primetime games involving the Steelers have always managed great numbers in the viewer ratings.

  27. Americans no longer watches baseball because most of them have the attention span of coked up Chihuahua.
    They need a constant change every 10 seconds or they go into a diabetic coma.
    Just look at the people around you in traffic.
    The teams involved in the World Series this year are not big attention getters and the FOX broadcast team makes you want to throw something at the T.V.
    Not a big surprise that a match-up of the last two Super Bowl winners does well in the ratings.

  28. The fact that baseball’s wild card round is aired on TBS, not a major network, says it all.
    Let’s face it … baseball is a borefest and its time has come and gone.

  29. Last weeks MNF abomination featuring the Titans at Jaguars absolutely CRUSHED baseball’s playoff game. A game that mattered to baseball was destroyed in the ratings by a game that mattered only to fans of the respective teams and fantasy owners.
    I do think tonight will be more telling though. Game 5 of the world series will be on a national broadcast network against Monday Night Football on cable. Baseball will probably win given that it’s a possible championship clinching game and is on local (free) tv. But if MNF wins, MLB might want to consider re-thinking a few more things..

  30. When half of MLB’s markets are represented by teams pocketing revenue sharing money and apathetically fielding mediocre teams, do you really except the sport to have sustain nationwide interest? I hope the NFL keeps parity as paramount while haggling over the new CBA.

  31. @strick,
    No doubt about it. As an O’s fan I have to suffer endlessly every year while teams with huge nationwide bandwagons, i.e. Yankees and Sox have endless income to burn on top tier players. And since MLB only allows 4 teams from each league to make the playoffs (retarded), I’m convinced at 27 that I’ll never live to see the O’s in the World Series again.

  32. Here’s my take:
    True sports fans, those who appreciate the history of major American sports, were watching Game 4. You have two great stories in the SF Giants and Rangers, and a young pitcher on the mound for SF who is really something special. The fact that the Sox, Phils, and Yanks are NOT participating in this series makes it all the more watchable and intriguing.
    However, if you are just a casual baseball fan, or you have a fantasy football team, you’re much more likely to tune in to the Saints/Steelers matchup. That’s fine.
    I can’t sit here and read people insulting this WS matchup – I have to laugh, because a real sports fan knows what is going on here, and is glued to the awful FOX coverage of this event. What the Giants have done this season is incredible. They are one of the best TEAMS I’ve seen in the last decade. Most of their lineup wouldnt start on other teams, but you put them together with one of the best picthing staffs in the last 30 years, and you’ve got a winning combo. If you opt for MNF tonight over the Lee vs Lincecum matchup, you’re missing out.

  33. I think Florio described the Sunday night NFL game as a run-of the-mill game b/c he HATES the Saints ever since they beat his beloved Vikings in last year’s NFC ‘ship game.
    But the Steelers are always a big draw because of their prestigious lineage, and a 5-1 record. Plus, the Saints are all of a sudden a “sexy” team with their rags-to-riches story, big name players, and the uniqueness of anything from the crazy city of N.O.
    Then the basic math: No Yankees = low ratings. Or at least you gotta feature some teams with lots of TV coverage like the Braves, the Dodgers, or the Chicago teams
    Finally, Americans just like the NFL more than baseball.

  34. Well seeing as both New Orleans and Pittsburgh don’t have MLB teams, its no wonder those fans would automatically opt for NFL.

  35. “”Baseball without a salary cap is unwatchable. ”
    Unless you are a fan of one of the 5-8 teams who can buy their way to the playoffs every year, no one cares about MLB.”
    This is idiotic. Its a weak argument people make all the time against baseball’s salary cap. Baseball has as much parity as football.
    5 of the 8 MLB playoff teams in 2010 did not make the playoffs in 2009 (Repeats: Twins, Phillies, Yankees).
    The playoff teams salary cap rankings:
    1. Yankees
    4. Phillies
    10. Giants
    11. Twins
    15. Braves
    19. Reds
    21. Rays
    27. Rangers
    (Seems pretty distributed to me. Oh, and the 29th ranked team, the Padres, were competitive all year and missed the playoffs by 1 game).
    The world series is the #10 payroll against the #27. The rich Yankees have won 1 title in the past 10 years and their dynasty of the 90’s was fueled by homegrown talent, not overpriced free agents.
    BTW, football with its salary cap has had 7 different superbowl champs in the last 10 years. After this year, baseball will have had 9 different champions in the last 10 years.
    But don’t let the facts get in the way of your analysis.

  36. Just to the guy who said the NHL is a dying league, the NHL is actually just as popular and even more so than basketball depending on the city. In the past 2 years the Stanley Cup championshipshave beaten the NBA championships. NHL is a rising league, not dying.

  37. SportsFan81– I couldn’t agree with you more. As a fan of both sports, I can appreciate this WS matchup. I think fantasy football has a lot to do with why the NFL’s popularity and TV ratings have rocketed upwards over the past 10-15 years… not necessarily better product.
    “And since MLB only allows 4 teams from each league to make the playoffs (retarded), I’m convinced at 27 that I’ll never live to see the O’s in the World Series again.”
    Don’t give up man. 9 out of the last 10 years have featured a new WS winner (More than any other sport. How’s that for parity?) A few years ago, Rays fans would have said the same thing.
    Football may be taking over as the most popular sport, but I’d argue they’ve got more problems to worry about than MLB. Off-the-field character issues are absolutely everywhere (off-season and mid-season), the CBA, constant blackouts which is embarassing (don’t hear many of those from MLB), concussions and long-term health issues of players, and imagine if they ever decide to crack down on steroids. oh and Favre is super annoying.

  38. rickah99 says:
    November 1, 2010 1:27 PM
    Well seeing as both New Orleans and Pittsburgh don’t have MLB teams, its no wonder those fans would automatically opt for NFL.
    I see what you did there.

  39. I watched the Ranger/Giant game and its horrific bad umpiring—two missed calls at first base favoring the Giants each time with no reply possibilities, plus a strike zone that varied from hitter to hitter—and there was no indecision in switching to an exciting Steeler/Saints matchup.
    I also catch the irony in Rick’s observation that Pittsburgh lacks an MLB franchise and the horrible baseball commissioner’s weakness for doing the bidding of big-city, big-media franchises like the Yankees. The Pirates are a Quadruple A team playing as a major league pinata for the big well-funded teams. If the Cubs had an owner who was willing to dispense money, they might have an MLB team too!

  40. “True sports fans, those who appreciate the history of major American sports, were watching Game 4.”
    True sports fans had to be watching a the WS? Sounds more like a weak attempt at insulting people who could care less about baseball when a football game is on, regardless of who is playing or how big the game is.
    A true sports fan would watch any sport on TV and when more then one sport is on, they watch whichever one that is more enjoyable to them. So while you watched the baseball game like a true sports fan would, I watched the football game like a true sports fan would that would rather watch football.
    Good for you if you and others like baseball. I’m not one of them. I’ll watch it if there is no football, hockey, college football, college wrestling, boxing, mma, or soccer on to watch instead. But it is clearly not my first choice in watching a sport or playing. I am however just as much a true sports fan as you are.

  41. “Well seeing as both New Orleans and Pittsburgh don’t have MLB teams, its no wonder those fans would automatically opt for NFL.”
    The point is everyone else opts for the NFL too. Football is just more spectator friendly than baseball. You can either watch a pitch every 25 seconds or you can watch a football play every 45 seconds. Which offers more entertainment value?
    As for commercial breaks, baseball has 18 breaks between innings then an average of maybe 4 pitching changes for a game gives 22. For football that works to five a quarter and two for half time, which may be slightly low.
    Then you have product management in general. Not only is the baseball season a long gruelling one for the players, it is for the fans too. After 6 months, most people could care less what happens unless their team happens to be in the playoff. Football has much better quality control on its product with a shorter season and few games.
    “True sports fans, those who appreciate the history of major American sports, were watching Game 4. You have two great stories ”
    If I want a great story I will read a classic book. I watch sports for entertainment. If it doesn’t offer that, I don’t watch. Besides, you really don’t have a greater story than you do half of the time in various sports championships.
    “If the Yankees or Red Sox had been playing, it would have been different. ”
    But that only shows how far back baseball is from football. The Superbowl will get huge ratings no matter who is playing because people all over the country is watching. The World Series depends on the viewership of the market areas of the teams playing for ratings. If you don’t get the huge markets, you don’t get good ratings.

  42. The problem isn’t the game or teams playing.
    The audio on fox sports
    (Lowercase is intentional) sucks!
    In trying to capture ambient sounds of the game & park, the announcers & commentary is lost.
    some find the announces awful but I ad to put up with:
    “Howard SO-SWELL, speaking in spurts on sports!”

  43. Florio, at least be honest. It wasn’t a “run of the mill” game when the NFL scheduled the Saints -vs- Steelers. That and GB -vs- Jets were probably the only games that would have beat the World Series and the NFL scheduled it right. NE -vs- Min would have been good but that didn’t become a “must see” until Moss was traded. Any of the other games on the schedule in that time slot would have lost. So don’t make it sound like the NFL could have thrown out any old DET -vs- Wash game out there and it would have won.

  44. The Super Bowl gets HUGE ratings, but let’s be honest…a solid 50% of those viewers are only involved for the spectacle of the whole thing – it’s like a national holiday now. If you don’t watch it and participate in the event, you’re ostracized. Last Jan, I watched the Saints v Colts at a huge party and I was one of 3 people who were actually trying to pay attention to the game. Every girl there was more concerned with Coronas, the commercials, and updating their facebook pages to show how much fun they were having, than with watching the game itself. For the World Series, my wife and I cook dinner, have a friend or two over, and enjoy the game. It may not be bigger, but it’s certainly more sacred.

  45. Hey Florio, how did the NFL do against baseball on Saturday night?
    Oh yea, the NFL got a ZERO.

  46. If football is so popular, then how come it BARELY beat boring baseball and not only that, this was the first time ever?
    If baseball is dead because of this, then what was football for the past 25 years?
    Terrorists don’t like baseball.

  47. The World Series used to be watched no matter who was playing in it, now it’s just if certain teams are in it. But with the way Roger Goodell is running the NFL, the Super Bowl may turn into an event that’s only watched if certain teams are playing as well. Of course the NBA Finals will get large ratings, it’s guaranteed that it will be Lakers vs. Heat in the Finals, upsets do not happen in the NBA. At least in the NHL, you could have #7 or #8 seeds playing for & winning a Stanley Cup. It’s unfortunate the NHL doesn’t get better ratings, hockey is almost as physical as football & makes basketball players look like wimps. Plus the game is very fast paced.

  48. This article was obviously churned out by the NFL PR department and NBC Sports(who obviously is competing with Fox). MLB has no problem growing as a business or growing its fan base. The MLB sells more tickets than the NFL and NBA combined. If you want more stats check out the latest article on the Sports Business Journal. If baseball is dying or fans aren’t interested, the data and sales tell a different story. The money is in baseball and that is b/c there are fans paying and watching. Everyone knew this would be a lower rated series given the teams involved…given the Fox dispute with Cablevision in baseballs biggest market in NYC. But the fact is, if Toronto played Oklahoma in the NBA Finals…no one would care. The NFL Super Bowl is one game….not seven..if it were seven…and Kansas City were playing Carolina..the ratings would be no better. The structures are completely different. If the NFL played 82 games like the NBA or 160plus like the MLB…their per game ratings would plumet. In fact, fans and analysts alike are up in arms that the NFL might go to 18 games and take away from how meaningful each week is. The two sports are just completely different. You need to evaluate and analyze the entire picture.

  49. who the hell would want to watch a bunch of retards readjusting their gloves for the 5th time in the same at bat, or rubbing pine tar on their helmets? yea no thanks, would rather watch the lions vs bills. and im from the bay

  50. Gee sportsfan81, if you watched the Saints-Colts Super Bowl last January, I wish you would have let me know the final score. I coulda made a lot of ~chedda~! FEBURARY 7th, 2010.

  51. Well see here’s the difference .. The actual amount of Football followers who watched the Superbowl would only be like 68% of those who watched it. Now those who watched the World Series were either SF Giants Fans, Rangers fans, classical baseball fan, those who favor baseball as a sport over football.
    Now since these teams aren’t such high market teams, then it would be dubbed to know that two of the most followed football teams in this nation would draw more.
    Baseball has about 41 million followers in the US.
    Football has about 70 million followers.
    Since baseball season is so long, those fans of team who weren’t in the playoffs could really care less … Especially a big nationwide market team like the Yankees, Red Sox, Philadelphia, Cubs, Cardinals, LA Dodgers weren’t in, then rating are low. Hell last year, the Yankees drew along with the Phillies 25 million viewers.
    Now if the World Series was one game win it all or loose it all, then most baseball fans would watch .. But it’s not. If you see the patterns of viewership, game one had 15 million viewers, then game two had about 12 million, game three 11 million and game for 10 million. Now if baseball was a one game series, then I would expect to see good 40 million fans tuning in. Same for the NBA and hockey.

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