If you have any doubt that the National Football League has replaced Major League Baseball as the pastime of choice for American sports fans, this should clear it up for you: despite the fact that the Chicago Cubs are playing October baseball for the first time in a long time, and competing to end a more than century-long World Series drought, the ratings are still higher in the city of Chicago for a middling Chicago Bears team that’s really only competing not to wind up in the basement of the league come winter.
According to the Sherman Report:
Through five regular-season games, the Bears are averaging a 23.6 rating in Chicago; 1 local ratings point is worth an estimated 35,000 homes. Meanwhile, the Cubs’ five postseason games generated a 19.4 rating on TBS.
A couple of factors come into play. TBS is a cable station that is seen in 86 percent of the nation’s homes. All five Bears games have aired on network television on Fox and CBS. Typically, cable ratings are 10-15 percent lower than the network’s.
However, the counter is that all five Bears games were played on Sunday afternoon. Meanwhile, two of the Cubs’ playoffs aired completely in primetime, and two others had finishes that pushed into primetime. Ratings usually are higher in primetime than during the afternoon.
Beyond that, Monday Night Football has consistently outdrawn playoff baseball, even when combining multiple contests played between the Cubs and Cardinals and the Mets and Dodgers, with a Pittsburgh Steelers-San Diego Chargers game dwarfing the ratings of baseball games involving the nation’s three largest markets.
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