World Series viewership slumps again

Devan Chandler, left, Román Zaragoza and Rose McIver in "Ghosts" on CBS.

World Series viewership was the second-lowest on record, dating back to 1968, but 20.16% higher than last year’s record low, and topped the NBA Finals for the third consecutive year and fifth time in six years.

Fox’s coverage of the Atlanta Braves’ six-game victory over the Houston Astros averaged 11.741 million viewers, according to live-plus-same-day figures released by Nielsen Tuesday.

The Dodgers’ six-game victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in the 2020 Series averaged 9.771 million viewers, erasing the previous record low of 12.64 million viewers for the San Francisco Giants’ four-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers in 2012.


All but one of the 2021 Series games drew the largest audiences of their nights, including Atlanta’s series-clinching 7-0 victory Nov. 2 which averaged 13.968 million viewers, second among prime-time broadcast and cable programs airing between Nov. 1 and Sunday.

NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” returned to the top of the ratings after a one-week absence, despite drawing its smallest audience since Oct. 18, 2020, with the Rams’ 28-16 loss to the Tennessee Titans averaging 14.214 million viewers.

The audience was the smallest since the Rams’ 24-16 loss to the San Francisco 49ers averaged 12.603 million viewers, opposite Game 7 of the National League Championship Series between the Dodgers and Atlanta.

“Sunday Night Football” has been the top rated prime-time program for seven of the past eight weeks, with only Fox’s “Thursday Night Football” topping it during that span.

The 93-minute fourth-season premiere of the Paramount Network’s neo-Western “Yellowstone” and an hourlong episode that followed were the week’s highest ranked non-sports programs, averaging 8.383 million and 7.841 million viewers, eighth and ninth overall.

CBS’ “Young Sheldon” was the week’s most popular comedy for the fifth consecutive week, averaging 7.124 million viewers, 13th overall and fifth among non-sports programs.

The CBS police drama “Blue Bloods” was the highest rated program beginning at 10 p.m. for the second time in three weeks and fourth time in the seven-week-old 2021-22 prime-time television season, averaging 6.196 million viewers, 19th overall and 11th among non-sports programs.

The CBS comedy “Ghosts” had the biggest audience for any new series for the second consecutive week, averaging 5.936 million viewers, 20th for the week and 12th among non-sports programs.

The concluding game of the World Series, “Thursday Night Football” and an hour of NFL programming on Sunday enabled Fox to win the network ratings race for the second consecutive week, averaging 6.87 million viewers.

NBC was second for the week, averaging 5.2 million, followed by CBS, which averaged 4.89 million and ABC, which averaged 2.82 million. The CW averaged 480,000 viewers.

Fox’s “Thursday Night Football” was fourth for the week, averaging 11.653 million viewers for the Indianapolis Colts’ 45-30 victory over the New York Jets, while its 23-minute Sunday NFL postgame show, “The OT,” averaged 10.967 million viewers, sixth for the week.

Fox’s most-watched non-sports program was the procedural drama “9-1-1,” which averaged 5.205 million viewers, 28th overall and 19th among non-sports programs.

“Chicago Fire” was NBC’s non-sports ratings leader, averaging 7.002 million viewers, 14th for the week and sixth among non-sports programs.

The news magazine “60 Minutes” drew the largest audience on CBS, averaging 7.531 million viewers, 10th overall and third among non-sports programs.

“Dancing with the Stars” was at the top of ABC’s ratings, 39th overall and 28th among non-sports programs.

The crime drama “Walker” had the most viewers for The CW for the second consecutive week, averaging 1.019 million viewers, 112th among broadcast programs. Its overall rank was not available.

The top 20 prime-time programs consisted of three NFL games; three NFL pregame shows; Fox’s 23-minute NFL postgame show, “The OT”; Game 6 of the World Series; “60 Minutes” and six CBS entertainment programs; three NBC entertainment programs and two episodes of “Yellowstone.”

“Monday Night Football” topped the cable ratings for the eighth time in eight 2021 regular-season broadcasts, with the Kansas City Chiefs’ 20-17 victory over the New York Giants averaging 11.962 million viewers, third overall.

ESPN averaged 2.756 million viewers to be the top the cable network ratings after three consecutive third-place finishes. Fox News Channel dropped one spot to second, averaging 2.744 million viewers. Paramount Network was third, averaging 1.635 million viewers, and Hallmark Channel fourth, averaging 1.406 million.

MSNBC dropped to fifth after fourth consecutive fourth-place finishes, averaging 1.097 million viewers.

CNN rose one spot to 11th, averaging 713,000 viewers, 21.9% more than its 585,000-average the previous week. CNN also trailed HGTV (867,000) TLC (832,000), Food Network (724,000), TBS (717,000) and History (716,000).

The top 20 cable programs consisted of “Monday Night Football” and its 13-minute pregame show; ESPN’s coverage of the Alabama-LSU college football game; 13 Fox News Channel political talk shows — five broadcasts each of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” and “Hannity” and three of “The Ingraham Angle”; three episodes of “Yellowstone” and the Hallmark Channel movie, “Next Stop, Christmas.”

“Squid Game,” the week’s most-streamed program, became only the third program to surpass the 3-billion-minute mark in weekly viewership for consecutive weeks, with viewers spending 3.021 billion minutes watching the nine-episode South Korean Netflix survival drama the week of Oct. 4-10.

The only other programs to top the 3-billion-minute mark in back-to-back weeks were “Ozark,” which topped the figure for three weeks in a row in March and April 2020, and “Tiger King” for back-to-back weeks also in March and April 2020.