But competition came from an unlikely source…The Al Smith dinner?
Thursday night television featured a rare matchup between a Bears-Packers game and a Cubs-Dodgers playoff contest.
But it was Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton who crashed the party and stole the show.
Game 5 of the National League Championship Series between the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers outdrew the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers in the Chicago market by far. The Cubs game drew a 24.1 local live-plus-same day household rating on FS1 (formerly Fox Sports 1) vs. a 12.5 rating the Bears game put up on CBS-owned WBBM-TV and NFL Network. The Cubs game drew a little over a million households in the Chicago area.
The Cubs beat the Dodgers 8-4 to take a 3-2 lead in the series, setting up a potential Game 6 National League pennant clincher Saturday night. If the Cubs win, they would advance to the World Series for the first time since 1945 and play the Cleveland Indians. The matchup would be a huge ratings and revenue windfall for Fox-owned WFLD in Chicago and Tribune’s WJW-TV in Cleveland. WJW would be in for a bigger payday from political advertising, given it’s a swing state (Ohio) in a hotly contested Presidential race.
On the other hand, the football game was dreadful and is unlikely to stop the chatter about the league’s declining ratings. The Bears (1-6) aren’t helping the league’s cause as Thursday night’s rating hit an eighteen-year local ratings low. Unbelievable as it seems, the Bears still outdraw most non-sports programming in Chicago, though keep in mind Thursday night’s game likely drew Packers fans (yes, there are Packers fans in Chicago) and those not interested in the Cubs. But the numbers are far below what they earned where the team were last playoff contenders.
While the Cubs dominated the Bears on the local scene, it was a different story nationally – the Thursday Night Football matchup drew 14.2 million viewers, double the 7.2 million the Cubs-Dodgers game had on FS1. Obviously, the baseball would’ve had better numbers if the game aired on the broadcast Fox network.
An unlikely event also had an impact on Thursday night’s numbers: The Al Smith dinner, which featured Presidential combatants Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Airing on all three cable news networks (and C-Span, whose numbers were not included), the event drew an eye-popping 10.3 million viewers -topping everything in primetime (except the football game) on the broadcast networks, including the Cubs playoff game on cable. Even Cubdom was no match for the Presidential freak show.
In other ratings news, the live adaption of The Rocky Horror Picture Show was a bust, drawing just five million viewers and a 1.7 ratings in adults 18-49 and drew far fewer viewers than recent live musicals Grease Live, The Wiz, and The Sound Of Music. On the other hand, it did double Fox’s usual Thursday average. Also of note is twelve-season workhorse Grey’s Anatomy, which drew a 2.1 rating in adults 18-49 – quite impressive for a show its age.