By JOE REEDY
AP Sports Writer
The Texas Rangers 5-0 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks for their first championship on Wednesday night drew the largest audience of this World Series. However, it was not enough to prevent the five-game series from being the least-watched Fall Classic in recorded TV history.
Nielsen and Fox said Thursday the World Series averaged 9.11 million viewers, less than the 9.79 million average from the 2020 series, when the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Tampa Bay Rays in six games.
It was a 23% decline from last year’s series, when the Houston Astros beat the Philadelphia Phillies in six games and averaged 11.78 million.
Wednesday night’s game averaged 11.48 million on Fox, a jump of 3 million compared to Tuesday night’s audience. The total audience across Fox, Fox Deportes and Fox streaming platforms was 11.64 million.
It was the first audience over 10 million for this year’s series. Monday night’s Game 3 set the record for the least-watched World Series game on record at 8.13 million.
The audience peaked with 14.27 million viewers for the final three outs.
Baseball and network executives figured this year’s series might face a tough audience because of two teams that don’t have much national appeal. The expanded playoffs also meant it was a series matching the teams with the seventh- and 11th-best records.
However, the Rangers being the ninth champion since 2013 and 14 teams qualifying for the Fall Classic in the same span does have some appeal for Fox executives.
“I think it’s a good thing for the health of baseball to have new pennant winners and new champions, new teams playing in the World Series. You don’t want it to be the same market and the same brands every year,” Fox EVP, Head of Strategy and Analytics Mike Mulvihill said. “But I admit it is difficult for ratings in the short term when you’ve got some brands paired up that don’t really have traditional national boards.”
Bob Thompson , the retired president of Fox Sports Networks who runs his own consulting group, also saw scheduling and a short series as factors in the low audience numbers.
“I think the Friday night start probably is something baseball might want to look at. It is usually the poorest-viewed night of the week. Then you had a couple games that were blowouts where people probably tuned out early,” he said. “Whenever there’s a chance for somebody to clinch, the numbers are usually high.”
The World Series also continues to outperform every entertainment program. This was the eighth straight year that has happened.
It was the most-watched event four of the five nights. The only thing to beat it was “Monday Night Football,” when the Detroit Lions beat the Las Vegas Raiders.
“Our two hopes and expectations are to beat everything in entertainment, and to have a long series. We didn’t really get a long series, but we did still beat everything in entertainment,” Mulvihill said. “As long as the series continues to do that, it’ll always be powerful in prime time.”
With the addition of the pitch clock and shorter games, ratings on regional sports network were up 7% for the regular season, with 16 of the 29 U.S.-based teams showing improvement.
National regular-season ratings were up for Fox/FS1 and TBS, but flat for ESPN.
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