By the Numbers
We know Game 7 of the World Series was an instant classic. The Chicago Cubs running out to a large lead, all signs pointing to the curse ending. Then the Indians charging back, and Cubs fans all around the world feeling the anguish of hope crushed. The Goat. Batman. The Black Cat. Every feeling, every losing memory rushing over us like an 18-wheeler about to squish a squirrel. Yet, the Cubs came back and won
That game alone drew a 25.2 rating and a 40 share according to Nielsen Media Research, the highest rated World Series game since 2001. It was the second most watch event in 2016, trailing the NFL championship game. And, as a series, it was the second highest rated in the last 15 years. Of course, having two passionate fan bases on the brink of ending epic championship droughts played a large part. For context, in another Game 7 with a team coming back from a 3-1 deficit, the Cubs-Indians game was a 33% increase over the Cleveland Cavaliers win over the Golden State Warriors.
Additionally, Game 5 of the World Series produced huge numbers. In a game that would either curse the Cubs for another year or elongate the series, the importance was clear. That drama alone helped pull a better rating than the Dallas Cowboys versus the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday night game. Head-to-Head, broadcast-to-broadcast, baseball beat the “America’s Team” and “America’s Game” in prime time.
And, while it is not the World Cup, the World Baseball Classic features the international energy and love for the game of baseball. Even Marlins Park in Miami was at capacity during games. Crowds are emboldened to cheer and dance. I witnessed a fan with a saxophone in the stands. In Japan, over 32% of the country tuned into watch the extra inning affair between their team and the Netherlands. As a whole, however, the WBC ratings are down in the US, but it is partly due to games being on MLB Network, a channel in just over 2 million homes in the country.