For the first time in memory, the World Series has outdelivered the NFL in head-to-head competition.
According to Nielsen live-plus-same-day ratings, Fox’s coverage of Game 4 of the Cardinals-Rangers series averaged 15.2 million total viewers Sunday night, making it the most-watched game thus far and topping NBC’s broadcast of the Colts-Saints NFL game by some 2.7 million viewers.
Preliminary deliveries measure viewership in the major media markets and are not adjusted for discrepancies across the four time zones.
The Rangers’ 4-0 home win was off 2 percent versus the overnights for Game 4 of last year’s Giants-Rangers series, which drew 15.5 million viewers on Oct. 31. With a 4.2 rating among adults 18-49, Sunday’s broadcast was down 10 percent from the year-ago 4.7.
Major League Baseball dedicated Game 4 to the Stand Up to Cancer initiative. After the bottom of the fifth inning, fans in Texas Stadium stood up to reveal their SU2C cards, on which each wrote the name of a loved one whose life had been touched by cancer.
MasterCard presented SU2C with a check for $4 million, money raised through the credit card company’s iDine promotion.
In winning Sunday’s game, the Rangers guaranteed at least two more broadcasts—music to Fox’s ears. Last year’s five-game series generated some $191.2 million in ad sales revenue; should the 2011 Fall Classic makes it all the way to Game 7, Fox could rake in more than $260 million in sponsor commitments.
While things were looking up for Fox, Sunday Night Football was another story altogether. Deliveries for an already unpromising matchup between the 4-2 Saints and 0-6 Colts nose-dived from 13 million to 8.9 million viewers between 8:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., as New Orleans breezed to a 62-7 victory.
Despite earning the unhappy distinction of being the most lopsided game in the six-year history of Sunday Night Football, the blowout still beat the World Series in the demo by a 5.2 to 4.2 margin.
Before the Sunday night stinker, NBC’s prime-time football package was averaging 22.2 million viewers and a 9.1 rating in the demo.
Luckily for NBC, the schedule for the next several weeks looks far more promising. On Oct. 30, NFL ratings leader Dallas takes on NFC East rival Philadelphia. Things only get better from there, as upcoming broadcasts include the Nov. 6 AFC North grudge match between the Ravens and Steelers and a Nov. 13 Pats-Jets throwdown.
The luckless Colts are slated to make one final SNF appearance on Dec. 4 in Foxboro, Mass., but NBC is almost certain to flex that out in exchange for a more competitive pairing.
While Fox and NBC were fighting for the hearts and minds of sports fans, ABC connected with its new fairy-tale drama, Once Upon a Time. Starring Ginnifer Goodwin as Snow White, Once Upon a Time conjured up 12.9 million viewers and an impressive 4.0 in the demo, making it the highest-rated drama debut of the 2011-12 season. (No. 2 is ABC’s Revenge, which premiered Sept. 21 to a 3.3 rating.)
At 10 p.m., freshman strip Pan Am continued to lose altitude, drawing 5.68 million viewers and a 1.8 rating. The period piece premiered on Sept. 25 to 11.1 million viewers and a 3.1 rating.