Concern for pay-TV's sports lynchpin? World Series craters to record-low 12.1M viewers

Blame it on a post-steroid era featuring minimal offense, or the inclusion of the small-market Kansas City Royals ... or too much competition from the NFL.

Whatever you attribute to this past week's awful World Series TV ratings, they're a concern to a pay-TV industry that's festooned together right now by sports program licensing rights.

Through five games live-broadcast via Fox, the Fall Classic featuring the San Francisco Giants and upstart Royals has averaged only 12.1 million viewers--that's 600,000 viewers less than the previous record-low, which occurred in 2012 when the Giants swept the Detroit Tigers.

One of America's premiere sports championship events--which had Super Bowl status before there even was a Super Bowl--hasn't averaged more than 20 million viewers since 2004. And you have to go back to 1992 to find the last World Series that averaged more than 30 million viewers

Fox is paying Major League Baseball about $500 million a year for broadcast rights, including World Series exclusivity, as part of an eight-year, $4 billion deal signed in 2012. Turner Networks is paying MLB $2.8 billion over the same span for a rights package that includes the American League Championship Series. ESPN is currently paying about $700 million per season under its eight-year contract.

For more:
- read this Wall Street Journal story

Related links:
Playing the SportsNet LA blame game: Include the fans and the team, too
NBA deal will raise average pay-TV bill 'couple dollars a month,' report says
NBA TV deal is 'latest example of reckless spending' by big networks, Mediacom VP says