joc pederson-los angeles dodgers-world series ratings

When the 2016 World Series between the Cubs and the Indians came to an end, we figured it could be a long time before baseball approached the kind of viewership those games had drawn. But here we are only a year later, and the Dodgers and Astros are drawing some shockingly excellent numbers.

Fox announced Wednesday that Tuesday’s Game 6 earned a 15.1 overnight rating, a figure that was 2 percent higher than Game 6 last year and 70 percent higher than Game 6 in 2014. It was the first time this series that a Dodgers-Astros matchup has topped its Cubs-Indians equivalent. And though we should note that last year’s Game 6 was 7-0 in the third inning, it’s still highly noteworthy that the 2017 World Series can (sort of) keep pace with a series that was supposed to be untouchable.

We don’t need to compare the Game 6 audience to last year’s to get a sense of how huge a number 15.1 is. According to Sports Media Watch, Game 6 drew the third-best overnight rating of any non-NFL sporting even this year, trailing only NBA Finals Game 5 (which was a clinching game) and the College Football Playoff title game.

That huge number for Dodgers-Astros Game 6 followed a Game 5 that will go down as one of the most thrilling baseball games ever, full of comebacks and home runs. It was the type of event that inspired hype on ESPN and chatter around the office water cooler and likely led some viewers to check out Game 6. Now, with a Game 7 scheduled for Wednesday night, Fox is positioned to close out the series with ratings far stronger than anyone could have expected. Per Fox, the World Series is averaging an 11.8 metered market rating, second-highest (behind 2016) since 2009.

The especially great news for Major League Baseball and Fox is that the strong ratings for this World Series are not a result of one particularly compelling storyline, as with last year’s Cubs, or a massively popular team. People are watching these games simply because they have been exciting and buzz-worthy. That is the type of enthusiasm that baseball can reasonably hope will carry over to next season and beyond.

This World Series has beaten Sunday Night Football. It stands well ahead of most recent World Series matchups. And for one night, it even topped last fall’s rating bonanza. Many people like to say that baseball is dying — or at least fading. But this is not typically what dying looks like.

UPDATE: Fox released full ratings data for Game 6 later Wednesday afternoon, and though it wound up a bit behind 2016, it did draw 22.2 million viewers, making it the second-most watched Game 6 since 2009. By comparison, the winner-take-all Game 7 in 2014 drew 23.5 million viewers.

About Alex Putterman

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

  • CreightonRabs

    You forgot to mention the second largest TV market (LA) and the fourth largest market (Houston) are playing in the World Series. That might also have something to do with the higher ratings.

  • Walt_Gekko

    If this had been Yankees-Dodgers instead of Astros-Dodgers, the numbers would have been WAY higher because then you would also have a lot of women who normally don’t care about sports, but would be watching SOLELY because of it being New York vs. LA (or “Broadway vs. Hollywood”). FOX would likely have been looking at 60 Million+ viewers tonight had it been Yankees-Dodgers.

    • Duncan Hirohito

      Is this The Mooch talking? Yes, merely insert the Yankees and it would have even been more glorious. The thing is, they would have lost in four.

      • Walt_Gekko

        Sorry, but there are still a lot of people who don’t watch sports who will watch ANYTHING that is “Broadway vs. Hollywood.” That, and New York being market #1 is why I think it would have been way higher had it been Yankees-Dodgers (and I suspect the Yankees would have given the Dodgers a fight as well).

  • Maybe all those disgruntled football fans are watching baseball again? I mean, no one is kneeling, or having any sort of opinion beyond “don’t say racist things or we might make you miss five games in April.”

    • Duncan Hirohito

      I agree. We should limit participation to people who only think ball, play ball, talk ball, dream ball, ball ball ball.

  • philly97

    It’s because no one is being preached to!

  • Matt

    Baseball is back! John Smoltz has been excellent with Joe Buck. I do like the new era of player celebration

  • Duncan Hirohito

    In case you didn’t notice, they played the most dramatic, exciting games ever seen on telebision. Once every century it’s bound to happen.