The stage was set. Ratings for baseball's League Championship Series (LCS) were up 65% over last year. The Red Sox had just forced Game 7 and the Cubs were on the verge of victory. The "Battle of the Curses" was to be played, and Fox
Except the curses played themselves out before the World Series.
Instead, Game 1 between the Marlins and the Yankees managed a mere 16% increase over last year with a 10.9 rating and 20% share, making it the third-lowest rated series opener ever. Compare that with the average 10.7 rating for the LCS, and it's apparent that there are some losers here.
For starters, there's Fox. If the series doesn't play out to 6 or 7 games and pick up an audience, Fox stands to lose out on ad revenue for next year's series (this year's ratings affect next year's prices). In addition, Fox would miss out on exposure for shows -- like "Skin" and "The Next Joe Millionaire" -- the company is pushing during the games.
Besides Fox, frontline advertisers Sprint
And don't forget Fox also lost two of its largest markets. Now I'll admit, as one of the last original Marlins fans, this is exactly what I wanted to see. But I know Red Sox fans who refuse to watch this World Series, and a Cub fan friend of mine (playfully?) threatened me with bodily harm. I doubt he can bear to watch, either.
Of course we saw this coming. In 1997, the last time the Florida Marlins were in the World Series, the average TV rating for the first three games of the series was the lowest since rating records began in 1959. But that series gained a following when it went to seven games, so perhaps the Marlins brand of baseball has value this time around as well.
Jeff Hwang can be reached at JHwang@fool.com. Marlins in 7.