THE HOUSTON Astros and Philadelphia Phillies may not be a dream World Series matchup for Major League Baseball (MLB) and Fox Sports executives, but both teams have the goods to produce something that should be far from a ratings disaster.
Few would disagree a more tantalizing World Series this year would have featured the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers as they are storied MLB franchises that play in the two biggest US media markets.
But the Dodgers, who enjoyed a franchise-record 111 wins in the regular season, lost in the National League Division Series while the Yankees lost to the Astros in the American League Championship Series.
Yankees slugger Aaron Judge was already hitting TV ratings out of the park this year as he chased down the American League single-season home run record.
“The initial reaction is: ‘Well it’s not the Dodgers and the Yankees,’” Neal Pilson, president of Pilson Communications and former president of CBS Sports, told Reuters when asked about this year’s World Series matchup.
“But we tend to forget Philadelphia and Houston are big markets so you are always helped when you have big-market teams.”
From evergreen Astros ace Justin Verlander, who is looking to bolster his Hall of Fame resume, to Phillies slugger Bryce Harper, a generational talent whose homer propelled his team to the World Series, the potential for drama is there.
From a ratings perspective, Mr. Pilson said the ideal scenario would be for the best-of-seven World Series, which begins on Friday and will appear exclusively on FOX Sports, to exceed five games.
“History tells us that ratings dramatically improve as you get deeper into the final no matter what sport you are talking about,” said Mr. Pilson.
The 2021 World Series, which Atlanta won in six games over Houston, averaged 11.75 million viewers.
According to MLB.com, the clash between the 106-win Astros and 87-win Phillies marks the second-largest win disparity between World Series opponents.
But that does not necessarily portend a dull contest. — Reuters