There were doubts that America would tune in to see a small-market Midwestern team that did not feature Derek Jeter in the World Series. But America tuned in anyway, in pretty good numbers. While Game 1 and 2 were some of the lowest-rated World Series games ever, the drama built up in the series, and people tuned in at the end to see the Royals come 90 feet away from tying the Giants in Game 7.
With 23.5 million people watching, Game 7 was the most-watched baseball game since the Cardinals beat the Rangers in Game 7 of the 2011 World Series. It was twice as many people watching any other show on Wednesday night. On the flip side, it was the lowest-rated World Series Game Seven ever, half the audience of the 1991 classic between the Twins and Braves.
Still, FOX averaged 13.8 million viewers for the Giants-Royals World Series, down from last year's Red Sox-Cardinals matchup, but better than the 12.7 million that the 2012 matchup between the Giants and Tigers averaged. With the series going a full seven games, you have to think they're pretty pleased with how it turned out.
Ratings were particularly strong here in Kansas City.
KC: 58.3 local rating for #Game7, 3rd highest for ANY market for ANY game on record (PHX 62.3 for 2001 WS G7, BOS 59 for 2004 WS G4).— MLB Public Relations (@MLB_PR) October 30, 2014
And for those freaking out about ratings, chill. As Commissioner Bud Selig pointed out:
"People want to use national TV ratings as a barometer — as a thoughtful, sensitive barometer of the sport — and they’re missing the entire point," Selig said. "Let them come to Kansas City and walk the streets, or San Francisco, or Pittsburgh last year and a lot of cities this year, and tell me this sport is declining. It makes no sense."
Tyler Kepner of the New York Times adds:
Hysteria over postseason ratings has become an annual cliché, easy fodder for a lazy and simplistic narrative that baseball is dying.
Television is more fragmented than ever before, with only a few events like football able to gain the same kind of massive audiences the big three networks were able to get with big events back in the 1970s and 80s. Baseball - and every other sport - is a niche sport now, that is a big draw locally, but not a huge deal nationally. And that's okay. It doesn't mean baseball is dying or that America is not a great country anymore. Baseball is different than when you grew up. Its always changing, despite at its core, remaining the same.
The truth is, baseball is still a HUGE ratings winner. Look how people freaked out over the massive ratings for the premiere of "Walking Dead", then consider that 46% MORE people watched the Royals play the Giants in Game 7 of the World Series. And they probably didn't watch it two hours later on DVR, zipping by all the commercials.
Baseball is doing great, and will continue to do well as it mixes in different teams with thrilling, engaging personalities on the field.