Even under the best circumstances, the 2017 World Series was never going to match the ratings of the 2016 Fall Classic, in which the Cubs and Indians battled through a tense, seven-game duel, with the most famous championship drought in sports on the line. It was the most watched World Series since 2004, and its finale was the most watched baseball game since 1991.
But setting aside that impossible precedent, this year’s matchup between the Dodgers and Astros is landing Fox some sturdy viewership.
Game 1, in which Clayton Kershaw and Los Angeles beat Houston 3-1 in a brisk two hours and 28 minutes, drew 14.97 million viewers. It was the second-most watched Game 1 since 2010, trailing only last year.
Game 2, an extra-inning thriller, performed even better. With 15.48 million viewers, it was the second-most watched Game 2 since 2009, again trailing only 2016. According to Sports Media Watch, its 11.0 overnight rating was the highest for a non-clinching game since 2011, excluding last year.
Given that series typically draw larger audiences as they progress — and that this matchup is guaranteed to last at least five games, and will probably go longer — Fox is in good shape. We predicted before the World Series started that the games would average between 15 and 17 million viewers (Our Twitter followers were a bit less optimistic), and the series in on track to threaten the upper end of that projection.
Where do you think the average World Series viewership this year will fall?
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) October 23, 2017
The World Series continues Friday night in Houston, and it’s probably fair to expect viewership to dip a bit without as much pageantry as Game 1, without as much drama (we assume) as Game 2, and without neither Clayton Kershaw nor Justin Verlander on the mound. But the opening nights of this series suggest there’s an audience for Dodgers-Astros, and by the standards of every series this decade not involving the Cubs, this is shaping up to be a well-watched World Series.