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MLB World Series Ratings Through Game 2: Not a Pretty Picture


October 31, 2023 by Mitch Metcalf

The 2023 World Series between

the Texas Rangers is underway,

and the early TV ratings are in. Although the Game 1 audience showed some promise on Friday night, Game 2 confirmed this matchup is about as bad as it

gets for a sport that struggles to deliver a national television audience.


Game 1’s audience peaked at 9.9M viewers around 9:30pm ET and nearly matched that number again around 11:00pm (9.8M) as the game moved through extra innings and ended with a 6-5 Texas victory after 11 innings. On Saturday the Game 2 audience peaked at 8.9M viewers around 9:15pm but the audience evaporated toward 11pm as the 2-1 Arizona lead through 6 innings turned into a 9-1 rout by the end.


Game 1 on Friday ended up with 9.2M viewers in an average minute, while Game 2 dropped to 8.2M viewers for an average minute. Games 1-2 together average 8.7M this year, down -22% from 11.2M last year (PHI-HOU) and down -6% from the previous low of 9.3M in 2020 (TB-LA).


The 2023 World Series is tracking toward the lowest audience size (millions of viewers) and the second-lowest relative audience index, which compares a given year’s audience size to the most recent five years. This puts World Series from different eras on an equal footing, with a 100 index exactly matching the recent five years, a 110 index indicating a year is +10% above the recent five years, and a 90 index denoting -10% below the recent five years. Here is the updated track since 1990:


MLB WORLD SERIES GAMES 1-2 AUDIENCE

[Index to recent years, 100=average] Millions of U.S. viewers


Below Average World Series [Index 94 or less]

  • [81] 9.3M TB Rays vs LA Dodgers 2020

  • [84] 8.7M ARI Dbacks at TEX Rangers 2023

  • [86] 13.8M PHI Phillies at TB Rays 2008

  • [88] 12.5M SF Giants at KC Royals 2014

  • [88] 16.1M HOU Astros at CHI White Sox 2005

  • [88] 17.5M SF Giants at ANA Angels 2002

  • [89] 19.4M CLE Indians at FLA Marlins 1997

  • [90] 15.5M STL Cardinals at DET Tigers 2006

  • [91] 12.3M DET Tigers at SF Giants 2012

  • [92] 18.3M SD Padres at NY Yankees 1998

  • [94] 18.2M NY Mets at NY Yankees 2000


Average World Series [Index 95-105]

  • [96] 14.2M TEX Rangers at STL Cardinals 2011

  • [97] 14.5M NY Mets at KC Royals 2015

  • [97] 21.6M ATL Braves at NY Yankees 1996

  • [98] 19.0M FLA Marlins at NY Yankees 2003

  • [98] 24.2M PHI Phillies at TOR Blue Jays 1993

  • [99] 14.6M TEX Rangers at SF Giants 2010

  • [99] 12.1M WAS Nationals at HOU Astros 2019

  • [100] 13.7M LA Dodgers at BOS Red Sox 2018

  • [103] 10.7M ATL Braves at HOU Astros 2021

  • [103] 13.9M STL Cardinals at BOS Red Sox 2013

  • [103] 20.1M NY Yankees at ARI Dbacks 2001

  • [104] 15.3M HOU Astros at LA Dodgers 2017

  • [104] 16.9M COL Rockies at BOS Red Sox 2007


Above Average World Series [Index 105+]

  • [107] 11.2M PHI Phillies at HOU Astros 2022

  • [111] 27.5M TOR Blue Jays at ATL Braves 1992

  • [114] 22.4M NY Yankees at ATL Braves 1999

  • [114] 27.5M CLE Indians at ATL Braves 1995

  • [116] 28.5M ATL Braves at MIN Twins 1991

  • [122] 19.2M PHI Phillies at NY Yankees 2009

  • [123] 18.3M CHI Cubs at CLE Indians 2016

  • [131] 24.2M STL Cardinals at BOS Red Sox 2004


Coming in the next post in a few days: the demographics of MLB. In addition to getting smaller, the World Series TV audience continues to get much older, a double-whammy that makes the next media rights agreement much tougher for MLB than NBA and NFL. Also, we will update for Game 3-4 ratings (available late Wednesday).


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