TBS's coverage of the National League Championship Series is building audience momentum.
The network's Oct. 13 presentation of Game 4 -- during which Milwaukee evened matters with the St. Louis Cardinals -- averaged a 3.7 U.S. household rating and 5.65 million viewers, according to Nielsen data. The telecast -- the Brewers beat the Cardinals 4-2 -- now stands as the third-most-watched NLCS game in cable history behind the first and fifth contests of the 2009 series in which the Philadelphia Phillies topped the Los Angeles Dodgers, according to officials at TBS, which is now in its fifth season of postseason coverage.
Thursday night's telecast was up 32% from a 2.8 household rating and 4.28 million for the third game on Oct. 12. The first two games averaged a 2.0 household rating.
Still, through four games the 2011 NLCS, featuring a matchup of the smallest market teams in over 20 years and hampered by some scheduling woes, was well behind TBS's LCS coverage over the prior two years.
Compared to the 2010 American League Championship Series in which the Texas Rangers beat the New York Yankees in six games (under their current contracts with MLB, TBS alternates the LCS season-to-season with Fox), this year's matchup was down 48% in ratings to a 2.6 from a 5.0 and 49% to 4.05 million watchers from 8.01 million.
Gauged against the 2009 NLCS, the 2011 set decreased 26% from a 3.5 and 27% in viewership from 5.57 million.
While the previous two years' confrontations featured teams from Nielsen DMAs 1 (New York), 2 (Los Angeles), 4 (Philadelphia) and 5 (Dallas-Ft. Worth), the 2011 NLCS pits clubs from markets No. 21 and No. 34 in St. Louis and Milwaukee, respectively.
As such, the current confrontation matches the smallest market squads since Cincinnati defeated Pittsburgh in 1990.
Game 4 earned a 31.1 local rating in St. Louis and a 28.8 rating in Milwaukee.
TBS, which should see its audience grow further with the series extending to a minimum of six games and perhaps to an ultimate decider in Game 7, was also hurt on Oct. 12, when Fox's coverage of the fourth game of the ALCS between Texas and Detroit was delayed by rain in the Motor City. As such, Fox's telecast spilled into primetime and overlapped with Brewers-Cards.
With both games vying for baseball fans' attention, the NLCS contest delivered a 2.5 rating and 3.88 million watchers from 8 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. The numbers jumped up in the final hour, including a 3.5 and 5.33 million from 10:30 p.m. to 11 p.m., according to Nielsen.