World Series: Game 7 Earns Over 25 Million Viewers


The final game of the 2011 World Series earned the largest Major League Baseball audience since 2004.

Friday’s Rangers/Cardinals Game 7 earned a 14.7 final rating and 25.4 million viewers on FOX, down 18% in ratings and viewership from 2002 (SF/ANA G7: 17.9, 30.814M), and down 37% and 35%, respectively, from 2001 (NYY/ARI G7: 23.5, 39.084M). The 2002 and 2001 games aired on Sunday nights.

The Cardinals’ win ranks as the highest rated and most-viewed Major League Baseball telecast since 2004 (BOS/STL G4: 18.2, 28.844M). Game 7 finished comfortably ahead of the previous seven-year high, set in 2009 (NYY/PHI G4: 13.5, 22.761M).

In addition, the game was the top Friday night program in the history of the FOX network, and earned the largest Friday night audience on any network since the Opening Ceremony of the 2010 Winter Olympics (32.641M, NBC).

Despite the strong numbers, Friday’s game ranks as the lowest rated and least-viewed Game 7 of the World Series. Since Red Sox/Mets Game 7 in 1986 (38.9, NBC), ratings have declined for each subsequent seventh game.

Over the past 40 years, every World Series Game 7 has taken place on a Wednesday or Sunday night, with the lone exception of the aforementioned 1986 game (Monday). This year’s game was no doubt at a disadvantage by airing on a Friday night, one of the lowest rated nights of the week.

Excluding NFL telecasts, Game 7 stands as the #2 sporting telecast of 2011, behind only the BCS National Championship Game (AUB/ORE: 15.3, 27.316M, ESPN).

Game 7 topped every game of the NBA Finals, including the clinching Game 6 (DAL/MIA: 13.3, 28.880M, ABC), every NCAA Tournament game, including the National Championship Game (CONN/BUT: 11.7, 20.055M, CBS), and four of five Bowl Championship Series games, including the Rose Bowl (TCU/WISC: 11.3, 20.558M, ESPN). In addition, the game easily topped events such as the final round of The Masters (9.5, 15.257M, CBS), the race portion of the Kentucky Derby (8.5, 14.539M, NBC), and the Daytona 500 (8.7, 15.597M, FOX).

Overall, Game 7 ranks as the sixteenth-most viewed sports telecast of the past ten years (dating back to 2001), excluding the NFL and the Olympic Games.

Compared to Game 7s in other sports, Friday’s game easily topped this year’s Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final (BOS/VAN G7: 4.8, 8.540M, NBC) earned a 4.8 and 8.540 million, but finished behind Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals (BOS/LAL G7: 15.6, 28.203M). This year’s NHL game aired on a Wednesday night; the 2010 NBA game aired on a Thursday night.

Locally, the Cardinals’ coronation earned a 52.7 rating, the highest of the series. By comparison, the team’s championship-clinching Game 5 win in the 2006 World Series — also on a Friday night — drew a 51.7.

In Dallas-Ft. Worth, Game 7 drew a 40.3 rating, down 14% from Game 6 (47.1), and up only barely from Game 5 (40.0). Still, the 40.3 tops the record-highs for both the Mavericks (39.8) and Stars (26.6). The Cowboys’ record is 58.5.

On the strength of Games 6 and 7, the 2011 World Series averaged a 10.0 rating and 16.6 million viewers on FOX, up 19% in ratings and 16% in viewership from last year (SF/TEX: 8.4, 14.3M), but down 15% and 14%, respectively, from 2009 (NYY/PHI: 11.7, 19.4M). The series stands as the highest rated and most-viewed since 2007 that did not involve the Yankees (BOS/COL: 10.6, 17.123M).

Additional details on the series as a whole are available here.

Ratings/Viewership For Game 7 of the World Series
Last 40 Years

Gm #
Viewers (000)
Fri., 10/28/11 TEX 2, STL 6 FOX
Sun., 10/27/02 SF 1, ANA 4 FOX
Sun., 11/4/01 NYY 2, ARI 3 FOX
Sun., 10/26/97 CLE 2, FLA 3 (11) NBC
Sun., 10/27/91 ATL 0, MIN 1 (10) CBS
Sun., 10/25/87 STL 2, MIN 4 ABC
Mon., 10/27/86 BOS 5, NYM 8 NBC
Sun., 10/27/85 STL 0, KC 11 ABC
Wed., 10/20/82 MIL 3, STL 6 NBC
Wed., 10/17/79 PIT 4, BAL 1 ABC
Wed., 10/22/75 CIN 4, BOS 3 NBC
Sun., 10/21/73 NYM 2, OAK 5 NBC
Sun., 10/22/72 OAK 3, CIN 2 NBC
Sun., 10/17/71 PIT 2, BAL 1 NBC

(This year’s numbers from Fox Sports Media Group press release via Fang’s Bites,; additional information from Dallas Morning News 6/13/11)

  • Youngwerther23

    what do you think Game 7 would have averaged on a Wednesday or Sunday?

    • Paulsen

      I would say 27-28 million viewers on a Wednesday. There’s a lot of different factors at play. More viewers on Wednesday nights, but also more competition.

      On a Sunday night, I would think potentially 30 million viewers. There’s competition in the form of SNF, but a lead-in from the NFL national window would boost the numbers.

  • jlasoon

    These numbers are slightly insane for a Friday night and the teams involved. I still can’t wrap my head around it. The damn game peaked with over 29M. 

    This is suppose to be a dying sport. What the heck would the numbers look like for a Cubs/Yankees final? 

    • Anonymous

      The numbers have been
      absolutely astonishing and show that saying Baseball is a dying sport
      is simply ridiculous!Let’s not forget these numbers have been
      produced on a Friday night. It’s maybe underestimated how bad a TV
      night Friday is!And, to put them in perspective, compared to
      other recent Game 7s, the 14.7 HH rating is very good against the
      15.6 for 2010 NBA Finals: given it was L.A. vs. Boston, the home
      teams’ TV markets were much bigger. If you don’t count home markets
      the two games would be 13.7 (WS on a Friday night) vs. 13.9 (NBA Fin.
      on a Thursday night). Normally people say Baseball can’t draw good
      numbers or create buzz outside home teams’ markets (the ‘Baseball is
      a regional game’ thesis). I think numbers show a different
      reality.This year’s World Series’ numbers have been
      monstrous. That’s a fact.And guessing how high a Yankees/Cubs
      World Series Game 7 could go gives us an idea about where Baseball is
      collocated in today’s sports landscape. I think such a game could
      easily surpass the 20.0 mark…Which other sporting event other than
      NFL can draw such big numbers?I think the answer is Baseball

      • JakeFrankie

        Haven’t the Cubs not been to a World Series in 100 years? Of course it would create Buzz, But don’t fool the facts. NFL is “America’s pastime” not MLB numbers show that.In Theory shouldn’t any World Series game be major in America? But times have changed and people have choices.

        Anybody who says Baseball is dying is nuts, Just because some random guy on here says that don’t take it seriously. Of course it’s not, MLB might not get as a good ratings as the past. But the MLB Playoffs is still a great ratings draw and Getting 8.0’s in this day and age is good.There’s no reason to make excuses for everything, MLB is in fine shape.

        I’m happy when the NBA is on or near MLB’s level for ratings, NBA has dealt with a lot of issues on and off the court that others sports haven’t. People always try to make this about MLB vs NBA that’s why I brought this up.

        • Anonymous

          “America’s Pastime” is not the Game that takes bigger ratings.

          Not even popularity can be measured by TV ratings only.

          For example, a Football game at the stadium will never be a family affair like a day at the Ballpark has always been and always will be for generations of Americans, fathers and sons.

          Football is TV king. Fact. No doubts. And no one denies that.

          But Baseball is a whole different beast. The long season, its every-day nature make it less TV-friendly. But it has deep roots in American society, and its historical coherence is a representation of society and makes it the one and only America’s Game.

          Basketball is doing very well even if what we’re seeing these days is the better way for ruining everything that’s been built in the last few years.

          Boston-LA was a very good matchup: the Lakers are clearly the Yankees of the NBA. And, as you all know, every WS matchup featuring the Yankees is a good draw.

          Boston is not a great NBA market and that’s true. But, still, the 33.9 Game 7 drew there made up for well over 800,000 households.

          Together with the 2,2 million households watching Game 7 in LA, you have a total of over 3 million households in the two home markets watching the game.

          Dallas-Fort Worth + St. Louis, even with very huge numbers, made for about 1,6 million households for the home markets of this year’s WS Game 7.

          About a half of those watching the NBA Finals Game 7.

          And don’t forget, it was a Friday!!
          One Fox official had estimated that a Friday Game 7 would draw about a 10% lower rating than if it was played Thursday, because more people go out on Friday nights than Thursdays, thus aren’t watching TV.

          On a Thursday night Game 7 could easily have done a 16.0 HH rating with 28 million viewers, without Yankees or Red Sox!

          And the Game itself was not so tight for about a half of the broadcast.

          In conclusion. We’ve enjoyed a World Series which has beaten Football, College or Pro, THREE TIMES in three days!

          The same World Series has won the night for Fox six of seven times.

          The same World Series has gifted Fox its best Friday night ever!

          Even in a down year like 2010 was for WS, Fall Classic has been the 8th highest-rated show of the year, exactly as a 1971 Pirates-Orioles World Series was.

          Simply, the numbers have been ABSOLUTELY GREAT, every other interpretation is clearly factious.

          Baseball is alive and in great shape.

          • JakeFrankie

            Many people complain that the MLB regular season is too long 162 games, as they do with the NBA season and the NHL one too.ESPN did polls this past year, The Majority of the people favorite sport was the NFL over the MLB,NBA and College Football.

            Personally I could care less if the NBA finals ratings are 5.0 or 10.2. I love the game without a doubt, As I have my whole life will forever. I would like the ratings to be fantastic every year but that’s not possible as seen espically in the 2000’s with the Spurs finals.

            You may say 2010 WS was a down year, But getting in the 8.0’s in this day and age with many choices is very good.

            Personally I would rather have the best finals every, If It’s the Heat or the Bucks I don’t care. I just want great basketball that’s all.

      • Andrea Cavalli

        Hey, Paulsen. All this talk got me thinking: would a game 7 featuring Knicks/Lakers or Lakers/Heat (Kobe vs. LeBron etc.) in the NBA Finals get into the 20’s as well, at least when it comes to overnight? Game 7 between Celtics and Lakers got a 18.2 overnight, so I don’t think a couple more points would be that hard to get with a bigger market than Boston (NY is #1) or with such a polarizing athlete like LeBron going up against another polarizing player like Kobe.

        What’s your take, Paulsen?

        • Paulsen

          A Lakers/Heat Game 7 would probably draw over 30 million viewers, close to 35 million if the first six games were close.

        • JakeFrankie

          Just remember people think just because Boston-LA have had a long time rivalry that it would be a huge ratings draw Which is false.

          Even Paulsen said Boston-LA in 2010 wasn’t the NBA’s best possible ratings draw. Boston aren’t that good of a draw on TV then some people think. They are a major market, But they haven’t been that good for the NBA since Bird left in 92.

          People doubted the Series would get past the 9.0’s in ratings, Let alone get the game 7 ratings it did. Game 7’s always do well in any sport. 

          NBA has had 5 Game 7’s since 1984, So MLB has had more Game 7’s than the NBA too.

  • Paulsen

    I’ll post that either tonight or tomorrow.

  • davd

    let’s be honest, there hasn’t been a good world series since 2002 or 2003. even as a huge baseball fan, I go into each world series expecting a sweep in 4 or clinched in 5. (even the phillies-yankees series was disappointing for 6 games given yankees had a 3-1 series lead) Baseball will need to string together a few good world series in order to redevelop its fan base. in fact, get its current fan base watching. 

  • jlasoon

    Paulsen, going over the numbers again, it seems somewhat hard to fathom the 89 share for STL. What do cities involved in the Super Bowl get? I doubt it’s this high.

    • Paulsen

      This year’s Super Bowl had an 87 share in Pittsburgh, an 85 in Milwaukee, and an 80 in host-city Dallas.

  • Chad

    I would like to give my take on the thought Baseball is dying.

    On the last day of the regular season and Game 6 of the World Series, for those that have kids, how many of them were watching these games, Just guessing not many, because they had school the next day.  I was reading that the median age of people watching the World Series was over 50 and baseball needs to get the young crowd, like the NFL and NBA have.

    Take this for what it’s worth, in the USA Today, under their Nielsen Ratings, in the 18-49 demo, Cowboys-Eagles beat both World Series Games 6 and 7, now World Series Game 7 was the most watched show. Say what you want, if Peyton Manning was playing for the Colts against the Saints, more people would have watched that game and MLB should thank the NFL for not caring about ESPN and giving them Ravens-Jaguars, a game that didn’t excite people.  I bet next year on Sunday and Monday Night, you will see 2 big games going on those dates.

    With most of their regular season ratings on Fox around 2 and early on the World Series games were the lowest rated, the big thing that comes into play, will FOX keep baseball or do they cut it, because if all Baseball goes cable, I almost think that would be a big blow.

    Would I say baseball is dying, not yet, but I just think the game is in trouble and my premise is that they don’t have the young crowd and that’s the one everybody wants.