Major League Baseball and Fox Sports narrowly avoided setting a record for the least-watched World Series opener ever on US television.
According to national viewership numbers for Nielsen, World Series Game 1 on October 22 between Houston and Washington generated an average of 12.194 million American viewers. That figure is just above the 12.191 million that watched the 2014 World Series opener between San Francisco and Kansas City.
This year’s figure for opener is also down 11.4 per cent from last year’s World Series Game 1 between the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers, which drew an average of 13.76 million viewers.
The 2019 World Series opener, however, still outranked anything else on else on US television for the evening, and network officials sought to put a positive frame on the audience numbers.
“Game 1 delivered four hours of content at audience greater than the season average of any entertainment show on TV,” said Mike Mulvihill, Fox Sports executive vice president and head of strategy, on Twitter. “In the end, the [World Series] will deliver 15-25 hours of viewership equal to an entire season of top-rated entertainment originals.”
While this year’s World Series does not feature teams with national followings such as the New York Yankees, Dodgers, or Red Sox, both the Astros and Nationals have strong regional fan bases. The Game 1 local market rating for Houston beat the start of 2017, which also featured the Astros, by 19 percent. And the Washington, DC, audience was the largest for any MLB telecast, regardless of team, since Game 7 of the 2001 World Series.