Baseball and football went head-to-head Sunday night, and baseball came out on top by a wide margin.

With a 12.8 overnight rating, the Dodgers and Astros’ World Series Game 5 thriller on Fox drew beat out the Lions-Steelers Sunday Night Football game on NBC, which drew a 9.4.

There are obviously a lot of factors at play here. The most obvious one is that the baseball game was really exciting, with comebacks, lead changes, and home runs galore. Social media was full of casual fans or non-fans who enjoyed the drama and action of the 13-12 game, which ended after a 10th inning Astros walk-off. It was one of the most thrilling World Series contests in recent memory.

Steelers-Lions, on the other hand, was a relatively mundane game between one good team and one mediocre one. It was not un-exciting, but there was nothing exceptionally grabby about it.

And we can’t not mention the broader malaise of the NFL’s ratings, which have dipped and sputtered for reasons no one can quite agree on. Cord-cutting, quality of play and angst over protesting players are among the many, many explanations observers and analysts have pointed to to explain for the league’s tepid viewership. Presumably, all the factors tamping down ratings in general, in addition to ambivalence over a so-so matchup, contributed to the viewership for Steelers-Lions on Sunday night.

The World Series in general has drawn strong ratings, down from last year’s Cubs lovefest, but up from most other Fall Classics since 2009. We’ll have to wait for the full series numbers to draw a firm conclusion about what this healthy viewership means for MLB, but for the second fall in a row, the league has plenty to smile about.

Of course, baseball and its fans cannot exactly claim superiority over the NFL on the basis of this game. The fact we’re impressed about an exciting game on baseball’s biggest stage beating a regular season NFL contest shows the extent to which football remains supreme.

About Alex Putterman

Alex is a writer and editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. He has written for The Atlantic, VICE Sports,, and more. He is a proud alum of Northwestern University and The Daily Northwestern. You can find him on Twitter @AlexPutterman.

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  • Dale Moog

    I watched both every time the football game was in commercial I switched back plus switched at halftime also so the last 5 innings of the baseball game because it lasted over 5 hr

  • buckwheat

    The writer of the article lists three reasons for the NFL decline. He describes one of them as “angst over player protests.”

    Angst? A definition I found:

    a feeling of deep anxiety or dread, typically an unfocused one about the human condition or the state of the world in general.

    We are not feeling “angst.” More like anger, then sadness that something we used to enjoy is no longer watchable.
    The writer of the article chooses to ignore the significance of fact that the Steelers are one of the teams playing in this poorly rated game. In Week # 3 the Steelers all stayed in the locker room for the National Anthem except for one player. Just like ignoring the significance of those huge crowds at Trump rallies during the campaign, the media is willfully ignorant of what it is trying to “report” on.