The 87-win Philadelphia Phillies did their level best to make it an unpredictable World Series, but in the end the Houston Astros juggernaut was not to be denied. Appearing in their fourth Fall Classic in six years, Dusty Baker’s charges were too consistent and just too damn good, although the gritty Phils kept things interesting—and helped Fox make a few bucks in the bargain—by winning two Series games.
Speaking of consistency, how’s this for keeping things on an even keel? The six-game series matched last year’s half-dozen outings and a repeat showing by the American League rep made for a familiarity in the Astros’ batting order: Altuve, Alvarez, Bregman, Tucker, Maldonado all picked up where they left off a year ago. But the same-same in the Nielsen ratings charts is where things took a turn for the unprecedented.
Across the six nights of primetime play, Fox averaged just a hair shy of 11.8 million viewers, a tally that translates to a net loss of 156,000 viewers compared to the 2021 Braves-Astros series. Statistically, Fox’s TV deliveries were more or less in a dead heat with last season’s turnout, a result which is not at all in keeping with the sine-wave pattern that’s emerged since the century began.
World Series ratings tend to go in and out as regularly as the tides; Fox in the last 22 years has nailed down an average increase of 3.02 million viewers per season during its 11 “up” intervals, while losing 3.81 million on the 11 downturns. Since the dawn of the aughts, Fox has seen an average audience boost of 19% when the ratings are on the rise and a drop of 20% during the off years; this time around, the decline worked out to -1%.
Given that overall TV usage is in free fall as younger viewers continue to migrate to streaming platforms, any year-over-year lift in demo deliveries counts as a win for the broadcast networks. Fox scored a slight increase among the members of its target demo, averaging 18,000 additional adults 18-49 over the course of the series. With an average draw of 3.62 million advertiser-coveted viewers (which was good for a 2.8 rating), Fox more than sextupled broadcast’s current primetime entertainment draw of 592,154 adults 18-49 per series.
Millennial and Gen Z fans did their part as well. With an average delivery of 1.39 million adults 18-34, Fox notched a 9% improvement among younger adults. All told, streaming platforms added another 232,307 viewers per game to Fox’s broadcast average, which marked a 2% gain versus the year-ago figure.
Fox began taking a victory lap around Citizens Bank Park on Nov. 2, when the Astros’ no-hitter by committee ensured that the series would go at least six games—the minimum number of frames necessary for the network to eke out a profit. According to iSpot.tv estimates, Fox generated $194.4 million in World Series ad sales revenue, while serving up 5.87 billion impressions. Spend was down 9% versus last year’s series, as the average unit cost in the Astros-Phillies set dipped 4% versus the year-ago rate, with a 30-second spot fetching around $319,000 a pop.
Also impacting this year’s take was an uptick in Fox’s in-house promo load. Fewer paid ad units is the tradeoff for assigning more in-game inventory to self-promotion, and per iSpot, Fox this year devoted 33.75 minutes of airtime to its own shows, up from 29 minutes of promos during the 2021 series. (Fox didn’t limit itself to hyping its primetime dramas, animated comedies and competition series; the network also made sure to get the word out about its Nov. 13 Cowboys-Packers game, which will feature the NFL’s most-watched team taking on No. 3 Green Bay.)
Among the top spenders in the 2022 World Series were Samsung Mobile, with a total in-game investment of $7.7 million, Geico ($7.1 million), T-Mobile ($6.9 million), the job-listings site Indeed ($6.7 million) and Chevrolet ($6.1 million). Perennial big spenders Geico, T-Mobile and Chevrolet are official MLB sponsors, as are other key advertisers such as Capital One ($5.4 million) and Taco Bell ($4.7 million).
The Astros’ and Phillies’ home markets were the most avid consumers of Fox’s World Series coverage, as one-quarter of Philly’s 3 million TV homes tuned in, while 24% of Houston’s TV households watched Baker earn his first title. Per Nielsen, 52% of all TVs in use in Philadelphia kept tabs on the series, while the somewhat smaller Houston market boasted a 55 share. As expected, the still-fuming New York DMA didn’t come anywhere near the top 10 World Series markets.