On Saturday night’s FOX postgame show, after the Cubs clinched their first pennant since 1945, Alex Rodriguez excitedly claimed “We own the fall, not football.” That claim would have been laughed at any year since about 1985, but it sounds at least plausible this time around, which is a victory for baseball all by itself.
From a narrative perspective, baseball’s not just winning, it’s winning so much it might get tired of winning. The macro conversation around the NFL this season has centered around rapidly declining ratings and a notably horrific level of play. That narrative didn’t get much help yesterday as the Cardinals and Seahawks capped off an awful afternoon of football with a 6-6 tie, featuring two missed field goals of less than 30 yards in overtime. Even if the 11.6 rating for that game looks good in comparison to other Sunday Night games this year, it’s down significantly from last season. As for baseball, the conversation has been entirely focused on the Cubs, leading to record ratings for FS1 and potentially big numbers for FOX this week. Put simply, that doesn’t look good for the NFL.
The election is taking up people’s attention and the ratings reflect that. Just last Thursday, when baseball beat football, CNN and Fox News had three of the best five rated programs of the night, but baseball’s increase is significant when other sports are experiencing a downturn.