Every decade or so Major League Baseball gets a shot in the arm and that revitalizes the sport. Once upon a time it was the “Great American Home Run Chase” and now it’s the 112th edition of the World Series that’s doing it again.
Detractors will say it’s the matchup, the Cubs haven’t won since 1908 or been in the World Series since 1945 and the Indians haven’t won a World Series since 1948. Yes, that’s a part of it but what if it didn’t pull big ratings, then those same people would be saying, “I told you so”.
According to the LA Times through 5 games this years event is averaging 19.3 million. On Sunday they pulled a 24.2 million number. These are national numbers. They won Sunday Night Football, and that was a great Cowboys vs. Eagles game. So what’s next?
I keep hearing about the 30.8 million the NBA pulled last year in Game 7. Well, it was a Game 7 and again it involved LeBron James and a Cleveland team looking for a championship. I feel confident if there is a World Series Game 7 that it would top the 30 million viewer mark as well.
Major League Baseball is experiencing “scandal free” action. That’s improved a lot over a few years ago. They don’t have a concussion scandal, they don’t have an out of control drug problem. Problems still exist but they’ve minimized them. They have had some big markets in the playoffs lately, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago to name a few.
They have had a decent influx of young talent as well. Now if they could only get younger people interested. That’s the biggest issue they currently face.
Five years ago the World Series lost out to the hit ABC show, “Modern Family” in the 18-49 demographic. In Chicago, the Cubs ratings are up 55% in the 25-54 demographic according to CSN Chicago. Maybe the Cubs are the answer across the board? They are the third largest television market.
Variety reports that Game Five scored Major League Baseball a 6.7 Nielsen rating in the 18-49 demographic. The NFL pulled a 6.5. On that night Fox crushed ABC’s prime time shows “Once Upon A Time” and “Quantico”.
I’m not a ratings expert but I can tell you that “water cooler” talk is up right now. I felt it rising last year with the Mets vs. the Royals and now this year it’s even better. What will Major League Baseball do to sustain these kinds of rating for the 2017 season? I’m not sure but that’s a good problem to have.
Photo – Wrigley Field circa 2000.