Bat Out of Hell: How the Long Ball Has Helped Boost Fox's World Series Ratings

Baseball purists may pine for the understated spectacle of the classic pitchers’ duel, but if the Nielsen ratings for the 2017 World Series are any indication, an awful lot of fans prefer to bear witness to towering home runs.

Through the first five games of this year’s Fall Classic, the Astros and Dodgers have combined to score a record 22 dingers, and while many of the starting pitchers have groused that the game balls have been “juiced,” the ongoing fireworks display appears to have been a boon for the ratings. The World Series on Fox thus far is delivering 16.1 million viewers per broadcast, which now stands as the second-largest five-game average since the 2009 Yankees-Phillies showdown (18.7 million).

If overall viewership for the Houston-Los Angeles series is down 17 percent compared to the 19.3 million viewers Fox averaged during the analogous stretch of last year’s storied Cubs-Indians set, that was to be expected. Viewers who tuned in for the 2016 World Series saw Chicago slam the door on 108 years of futility, ending the longest championship drought by any major U.S. sports franchise. (That Cleveland was looking to dispel baseball’s second most-enduring title drought — 68 seasons — only served to make last year’s series all the more momentous.)

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