Advertisers Gamble on World Series

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"The rooting interest of advertisers and of networks is really not for teams, it's for eyeballs," said Stephen A. Greyser, a professor at Harvard Business School who specializes in sports business.

"And it doesn't mean that they don't like a particular team," he said. "It does mean they know the Yankees will bring a huge TV audience, not only in the greater metropolitan New York area, but they also know that the Yankees have a national following."

Greyser said there are at least three factors that will attract an audience to the World Series and make advertisers happy: a team with a national following, star players and a competing rivalry between contenders.

Will the Rangers' Cliff Lee emerge as the star of the World Series? Does San Francisco's Tim Lincecum have a national following?

"We will find the real answers to those empirical questions on opening night," said Greyser.

Other advertisers include Chevrolet, whose special partnership will allow game three of the World Series to start one hour earlier on Saturday. The 6:57 p.m. ET first pitch might be less attractive to advertisers than a later prime-time start, but will allow a broader younger audience to watch the game.

D'Ermilio said the World Series will give Fox 15 to 25 hours of top ratings and expects the series to post Fox's highest prime-time ratings of the season, above its number one show, "Glee."

Major League Baseball spokesman Matt Bourne said a closely contested matchup is likely. For every seven-game series, the longer the series goes, the longer the interest and excitement rises.

Obviously if you go deep into a series, it means both teams have won and played games well, and the winner is in doubt.

"The Texas Rangers have never won a World Series and the New York Giants last won in 1954 and moved to San Francisco after that," Bourne said. "One of them will obviously break that streak."

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