World Series Game 1: Philadelphia 35.7; Tampa Bay 31.9

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In TV land, it doesn’t matter so much that the Phillies outlasted the Rays 3-2 in Game 1 of the World Series. Or even that the Backstreet Boys did a really cool version of the National Anthem before hand.

It’s that Philadelphia predictably topped all Neilsen markets with a 35.7 rating and 53 share while Tampa Bay/St. Petersburgh, Fla., did a 31.9/49 for their markets.

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That helped the overall rating of 9.2/15, which is 12 percent off from last year’s World Series Game 1 of 10.5/18 between Boston and Colorado. It’s 15 percent up from the 2006 Game 1 between St. Louis and Detroit (8.0/15).

Other cities who were in the Top 10 and were more apt to seeing Tampa Bay manager Joe Madden mouth the words “Bull—-” to the umpires who wouldn’t call a balk on Phillies pitcher Cole Hammels: Florida-friendly Orlando (14.4), Fort Myers (13.3) and West Palm Beach (12.7); Minneapolis (13.1); Milwaukee (12.5); St. Louis (11.1), plus New York and Charlotte, N.C. (both at 10.4).

Los Angeles did a rather lame 8.3, ranking about 30th out of the 56 metered markets. What else could have captivated the L.A. audience last night? “Knight Rider”? “Gary Unmarried”?

Fox’s silver lining note: The Phillies winning Game 1 makes it more likely that the 2008 Fall Classic will extend beyond four games. Only once in the last 40 years has the visiting team won Game 1 and gone on to sweep the Series (the 1999 Yankees). Just reaching a fifth game will likely make this a more-watched World Series than last year.

This, of course, does not factor in the Tampa Bay variable, which by virtue of the Rays being in the World Series, everything else in the past is thrown out of kilter.

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