Baseball playoff ratings drop 24% on TBS

By Erik Matuszewski, Bloomberg

NEW YORK — Major League Baseball’s first-round playoffs attracted 24 percent fewer television viewers than a year ago because of competition from the vice presidential debate, an absence of New York teams and early ending series.

The 15 divisional games drew an average of 4.3 million viewers on Turner Sports’ TBS network, according to Nielsen Media Research. Last year’s first-round playoff games on TBS drew an average of 5.7 million viewers.

None of this year’s opening-round series went to a decisive fifth game, with three decided in four games and the Los Angeles Dodgers sweeping the Chicago Cubs in three. The second game of that series was also up against the U.S. vice presidential debate, which drew 70 million viewers, according to Nielsen.

While both Los Angeles-area teams made the postseason, New York, the nation’s biggest media market, didn’t have a team reach the playoffs. The Mets failed to qualify on the final day of the regular season and the Yankees missed the playoffs for the first time in 14 years. Los Angeles is the second-biggest media market in the U.S.

Turner is in the second season of a seven-year contract to cover regular season and playoff games.

TBS will next televise the American League Championship Series between the defending World Series-champion Boston Red Sox and a Tampa Bay Rays team that’s in the postseason for the first time in its 11-year history.

“We look forward to a very exciting ALCS and hope to continue to draw viewers to what shapes up to be a compelling match-up,” Turner spokesman Jeff Pomeroy said in an e-mail.

News Corp.’s Fox network airs the National League Championship Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies, and also will televise the World Series.