Fox averaged a record-setting low of 9.78 million viewers per contest during the six games played in the 2020 World Series, in which the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Tampa Bay Rays, which is a whopping 32% below the previous World Series nadir and serves as the most recent evidence that fans have a decreased appetite for live sporting events during the pandemic era.
Nielsen Media Research announced Wednesday evening that the six games on Fox averaged a 5.2 rating (the percentage of television households tuned in the broadcast) and a 12 share (percentage viewing the telecast among those households with TVs on at the time).
The 2019 World Series, which featured the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros, was watched by an average of 14.1 million people, generating an 8.1 rating and a 16 share.
The Dodgers series-clinching win in Game 6 on Tuesday night drew a 6.8 rating, 15 share, and an average of 12.6 million viewers, which helped boost this year’s numbers, but was still the least-watched Game 6 in World Series history.
Coming into this year, no single World Series game had ever registered fewer than 9.8 million viewers. However, four of the six games played in the 2020 World Series attracted less than 9.8 million viewers.
The ratings for broadcasts of nearly all major U.S. sporting events have been dismal during the coronavirus pandemic. Viewership of the 2020 NHL’s Stanley Cup Finals was 61% lower than last year, while the final round of golf’s U.S. Open was down 56%. The 2020 NBA Playoffs were down 37% compared to last year. Conservative pundits and politicians (such as Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who claimed that the decline in NBA’s ratings was due to the league’s “concerted effort to insult their fans & turn every game into a left-wing political lecture”) have argued that NBA’s ratings plunged this season due to players’ social activism. However, a recent national poll found that various factors have played a part in the plummeting viewership. According to a Marist Poll released in mid-October, 35% of self-described sports fans said that “concerns over the coronavirus” have led to a decrease in their sports viewership, 21% of fans said the availability of other entertainment options is the primary reason they’ve watched few sporting events. One in five fans (20%) said coverage of the upcoming election has taken precedence over sports broadcasts.
More than three in 10 (31%) Democrats and nearly a quarter (24%) of Independents asserted that they had watched sports more often because of professional athletes’ social activism and social justice initiatives.
“The antipathy to social causes can’t account for a drop this large. It’s a whole combination of factors,” said Dr. Zachary Arth, Assistant Professor of Sports Communication at Marist College. “Take baseball, where Democrats (38%) and Republicans (37%) identify themselves as fans in roughly the same proportions. The sport faces a similar reduction in popularity as basketball, where the fan base is more diverse and more likely to identify as Democrats.”
42.3 million: That was the record-setting average number of viewers that tuned into the 1980 World Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and Kansas City Royals. A mind-boggling 54,860,000 viewers watched Game 6 of that series.
Source: Forbes – Business