With World Series ratings close to a record low last weekend, baseball commissioner Bud Selig expects a rebound this week with the possibility of the first Game 7 since 2002.
The St. Louis Cardinals' 16-7 rout of the Texas Rangers in Game 3 drew the second-lowest World Series rating ever, but viewership increased for the tighter Game 4.
Selig already is looking ahead to bidding for a national television contract to replace the seven-year deals with Fox and Turner Sports that are bringing the sport about $3 billion US from 2007-13.
"We'll have more competition than we've ever had from people who are willing to pay money. That tells me more than anything," Selig said Monday before Game 5.
Saturday's game on Fox drew a 6.6 fast national rating and a 12 share. The only Series game with a lower rating was the rain-delayed third game of the 2008 Series between Philadelphia and Tampa Bay, which got a 6.1.
This year's Game 3 was down one per cent from last year, when the Rangers' 4-2 win over San Francisco got a 6.7 and 13 -- with a start about an hour earlier.
The Rangers' 4-0 win in Game 4 Sunday night drew a 9.2/14, up 2 per cent from a 9.0/15 last year, when the Giants beat the Rangers 4-0.
Through four games, the Series is averaging an 8.2/13, down 1 per cent from an 8.3 last year, which had a larger National League market.
"The landscape has changed tremendously. A lot of people don't seem to understand that," Selig said. "Why don't you look at it that Fox has won the night every night by a gigantic margin? They're thrilled. They had their biggest rating on Sunday night since the Super Bowl last year."
Unlike last season, Game 4 beat the National Football League.
The close contest drew a higher preliminary rating than the football rout with a 10.1 overnight rating and 16 share. The Rangers led the Cardinals 1-0 into the sixth inning.
The New Orleans Saints led the Peyton Manning-less Indianapolis Colts 21-0 after the first quarter of a 62-7 victory to draw an 8.2/13 on NBC.
Last year, Steelers-Saints on "Sunday Night Football" earned an 11.8/18 while the Giants-Rangers World Series drew a 10.4/16.
The World Series was tied after four games for the first time since 2003. There has not been a seven-game Series since the Angels beat San Francisco in 2002.
"Let's see when this one is over," Selig said. "If this one goes six or seven, you've got a whole different ball game."
Ratings represent the percentage of all homes with televisions tuned into a program. Shares represent the percentage of all homes with TVs in use at the time. Overnight ratings measure the country's largest markets.