World Series ratings: Baseball beating NFL? That’ll knock your Sox off


It is a truth universally acknowledged that football beats baseball in U.S. TV ratings. In fact, football beats everything. Because it’s America’s game and all.

Except for this month. The World Series match-up between the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals -- which Boston could clinch as early as Wednesday -- is generating actual excitement among viewers and has even given NFL games a run for their money in the ratings.

Monday’s Game 5 on Fox delivered an average of 14.4 million total viewers, according to Nielsen. That blew right past the 10.8 million for ESPN’s “Monday Night Football.”


True, that NFL game was a dull contest between the Seattle Seahawks and the St. Louis Rams that fell way below the 13.1 million ESPN has been collecting for Monday games this fall.

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Even so, the World Series has proved that interest in baseball hasn’t totally waned -- despite the results from last year, when San Francisco’s four-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers led to some of the worst World Series ratings on record.

Sunday night presented a true dilemma for sports fans, as Game 4 was presented at the same time as NBC’s NFL match-up between Green Bay and Minnesota. Football pulled out the win, but it was close (16.8 million vs. 16 million).

Games 1 and 2 also made the prime-time Top 10 for the week that ended Sunday. Game 3, however, aired on a Saturday, a lightly watched night that depressed the numbers somewhat -- even though it ended with a bizarre “obstruction call” that set Twitter and sports talk radio ablaze.

Overall, the first five games of this year’s Series averaged 14.1 million, up 11% compared with last season. And it’s up the same amount in the crucial demographic of adults ages 18 to 49.


It’s a little too early to declare that baseball is back as America’s pastime. But the ratings show the game hasn’t lost its TV cred.

“The Series has been great,” said Brad Adgate, an analyst for Horizon Media. “Very matched teams, exciting plays, weird endings, a great rivalry.”

What have you thought of the Series this year?


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