The Los Angeles Dodgers took a 1-0 lead in the 2020 World Series in convincing fashion on Tuesday, with some of the game’s biggest stars — Mookie Betts, Clayton Kershaw, Cody Bellinger — showing out.
Unfortunately, it appears not many people were watching.
Game 1 of the World Series drew in 9.195 million total viewers, per The Wrap. That makes it not only the least-watched World Series opener ever, but the least-watched World Series game ever. The hurt was reportedly not quite as bad in the valued adults 18-49 demographic, in which the 2.4 rating was slightly better than Game 4 of last year’s Fall Classic.
It’s also probably safe to say that Game 1 set a record for low attendance, though that’s hardly MLB’s fault.
Why are the World Series’ ratings down?
There could be any number of reasons why so few people turned into Game 1 of the World Series this year, some specific to 2020 and others being trends years in the making.
Pretty much every sports league (except the WNBA) has seen down ratings this year amid the coronavirus pandemic, and baseball — long known as a regional sport with lagging national appeal — has been no exception. Game 7 of the NLCS did have good numbers, but that was a Game 7 between two of MLB’s larger fanbases.
The delayed NBA playoffs and ongoing NFL season could also have caused some sports fatigue among casual viewers. The American League champion Tampa Bay Rays have long been one of baseball’s weakest draws even as they continue to defy the odds as a small-market team. And there’s the ever-present worry of baseball’s aging fanbase and waning numbers among younger audiences.
The biggest takeaway should be that this isn’t caused by a single factor, and it’s important to remember that national television ratings are just one factor in determining the health of a sport. That doesn’t mean MLB commissioner Rob Manfred doesn’t have plenty of things on his plate to figure out.
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