Both the NLCS and ALCS will conclude this weekend, with either the Astros or Red Sox taking on either the Braves or Dodgers in the World Series. And while both series have been drama-laden and pushed to at least a sixth game, viewership for each series has been starkly different.
Through five games, the Astros-Red Sox ALCS on Fox and FS1 is averaging 4.467 million viewers. The high watermark came for Game 1 last Friday (6.135 million viewers on Fox), while the low came for Wednesday’s Game 5 on FS1 (3.506 million viewers with a 5 PM east coast start time). That average is up from last year’s ALCS on TBS, and essentially flat from the NLCS on Fox and FS1 (though it *is* up from the first five games of last year’s NLCS, which averaged just 3.48 million viewers). It’s also down 23% from 2019’s Astros-Yankees ALCS on Fox (Game 1) and FS1 (Games 2-6), which averaged 5.75 million viewers for the full series. Through five games, that series averaged 5.41 million viewers.
News is more positive on the NLCS side. Through five games, Braves-Dodgers is averaging 4.89 million viewers for TBS, up 75% from last year’s full series average for Rays-Astros (2.78 million viewers, an all-time low for an LCS). That series also averaged 2.30 million viewers through its first five games, which this year’s series has more than doubled. Compared to 2019, Braves-Dodgers is up 22% on Nationals-Cardinals, which averaged an even four million viewers for Washington’s four game sweep. The high viewership mark for this series came for Wednesday’s Game 4 (5.337 million viewers), while the low came with Tuesday’s Game 3 (4.36 million viewers, starting at 5 PM on the east coast).
And now, we’re heading into Game 6 and possibly Game 7 of each series, poised for strong finishes. The possible NLCS Game 6/ALCS Game 7 doubleheader on Saturday has the benefit of going up against a somewhat weak slate of college football games, and while a potential NLCS Game 7 still has to go head to head with Sunday Night Football, the battle of the sub-.500 Colts and 49ers shook out pretty well for MLB.
I think a Dodgers-Astros World Series rematch would provide MLB with the most juice next week, while a Braves-Red Sox matchup would also bring a lot to the table. A Dodgers-Red Sox rematch doesn’t seem all that appealing to me (aside from Mookie Betts changing teams), and a Braves-Astros series is something we saw numerous times over the years when the Astros were in the National League.