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Thrilling World Series Draws Sponsors to Fox for Game 7

The Houston Astros’ enthralling seven-game World Series victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers was a big winner for Fox, which topped its own ad sales forecast.

Ratings rose as the series went on and Fox was able to sell commercials in game 7 to 27 advertisers who hadn’t bought spots in the World Series up to that point for more than $350,000 per 30 seconds, and to 11 new sponsors in game 6, generating incremental revenue.

“It’s only fitting that one of the best World Series in history exceed our revenue expectations,” says Bruce Lefkowitz, executive VP for ad sales at Fox Networks Group.

“The value of big-even television can’t be overstated,” Lefkowitz says, noting that once advertisers saw the games would be generating ratings in the 16 to 18 range, they had to be there.

Game 7 advertisers included Sony PlayStation, State Farm, Apple, Amazon, Colgate and Gorilla Glue, according to iSpot.TV. The top advertisers over the course of the series were Chevrolet, YouTube, GEICO, T-Mobile and Indeed.

It wasn’t clear of Fox’s ad revenue topped last year, when the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians played seven games, with the Cubs winning their first championship in 108 year in extra innings. According to Kantar Media, The Cubs-Indians series generated $409.4 million in ad sales, up from $240 million the year before when the Royal beat the Mets in five games.

Fox parent 21st Century Fox warned investors that 2017 World Series revenue was unlikely to match 2016’s total.

The World Series averaged 18.9 million viewers over seven games, beaten only by Cubs-Indians since 2009. The Game 7 averaged 29.3 million viewers including Fox, Fox Deportes and Fox Sports Go, down from 40 million a year ago.

The World Series was presented by YouTube TV, which reprised its Game 1 two-minute spot before Game 6.

"When we launched YouTube TV, we wanted to innovate on the way we deliver TV and how users watch Live content, says Angela Courtin, Global Head of YouTube TV & Originals Marketing.  “We brought that same spirit of innovation to our historic partnership with the MLB and the way we brought YouTube TV to life in media, content and creator activations. We're really encouraged by the results of this partnership, which allowed us to build awareness for YouTube TV and be part of the conversation around live sports."

YouTube, Duracell, T-Mobile and Wendy’s ran six-second ads during the series.

“We’ keep getting more and more calls in the in-game sixes,” Fox’s Lefkowitz says. “That’s gaining traction.”

Fox might not have matched the revenue generated by the Cubs-Indians series because buyers viewed that series as an aberration. Another strong series will enable Fox push for bigger spending in the baseball playoffs next year.

“When you contrast against the backdrop of what’s going on in broadcast prime, you have to look at baseball’s playoffs as a place to begin your fall plans to guarantee you get your ratings,” Lefkowitz says.

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.