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Monday, November 5
TV audience biggest since Twins-Braves in '91

Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Nearly 40 million people watched Game 7 of the World Series, the largest TV audience for baseball in 10 years.

Fox's broadcast of the Arizona Diamondbacks' 3-2 victory over the New York Yankees to win the championship Sunday night drew a 23.5 preliminary national rating and 34 share, making it the most-watched telecast in the network's history outside of NFL games.

The rating is the percentage of the country's 105.5 million TV households tuned to a broadcast. Share is the percentage of homes with TVs in use.

The game, which Arizona won with a two-run rally in the bottom of the ninth inning to end New York's streak of three straight titles, drew more than twice as many viewers as Sunday night's Emmy Awards show on CBS.

Overall, the World Series averaged a 15.6 rating and 25 share, 26 percent higher than the record-low 12.4/21 for the 2000 Subway Series between the Yankees and Mets, which generated little TV interest outside of New York.

One indication, though, of how the proliferation of cable and satellite TV has changed viewers' habits is that only one other World Series (the Yankees' four-game sweep of the San Diego Padres in 1998, with a 14.1 average) drew lower ratings than this year's.

An estimated 39.1 million people were tuned to Fox at any given time during Sunday's game. Only three TV programs were watched by more people in 2001: the Super Bowl (No. 1 with 84.1 million), the premier of "Survivor" (which followed the Super Bowl on Jan. 28) and the Academy Awards show.

It was he biggest average audience for a baseball game since 50.3 million tuned in for the 10-inning Game 7 of the 1991 World Series between the Minnesota Twins and Atlanta Braves.

Fox estimated that 71.9 million people watched at least part of Sunday night's game, which had a rating more than twice that for Game 1 on Oct. 27 -- the lowest-rated game in World Series history.

In Phoenix, 80 percent of TVs that were on were tuned to the game. That figure was 53 percent in New York, the country's largest television market.

The Game 7 audience was just what Fox was hoping for last year when it agreed to pay baseball $2.5 billion for six seasons of regular-season, All-Star and postseason games.

The network sold between $15 million and $20 million in advertising for each World Series game, so its total take was well above what it would have been for a four-game Series.

Plus, Fox can use the ratings increase to ask sponsors to pay more for ads during next year's World Series.

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