TV ratings. How did the World Series and MLS Cup turn out with two Philly teams involved?
Let’s start with baseball, this from Bill Shea at The Athletic:
The Astros’ six-game series win over the Phillies averaged 11.78 million viewers on Fox, and 12.03 million combined viewers (Fox, Fox Deportes and streaming), the network said, which are fine numbers amid the harsh realities of the modern TV universe but still makes for one of the least-watched World Series on record.
In fact, it trails only 2020’s pandemic-affected Fox TV-only 9.94-million-viewer average (Dodgers over Rays). Last year’s six-game Braves win over the Astros averaged 11.94 million for the network, which has aired the World Series since 2000.
Okay, so World Series TV numbers require a lot of context. You’ll always read things like “least-watched” and whatever, but that’s a large trend dating back decades now. The World Series is not pulling 40 million people like it used to, but if you compare numbers over the last ten years, this Phillies/Astros series held its own. Game 6 got 13 million people on Saturday night, going up against college football and plenty of competition. And Game 5 beat the Eagles/Texans matchup on Thursday night, pulling 13.01 million viewers, according to FOX. Philadelphia was the #1 TV market and had more viewers than Houston and other Texas cities.
Now to MLS Cup, from Jonathan Tannenwald at the Inquirer:
The Union’s first appearance in Major League Soccer’s championship game helped deliver the event its biggest U.S. TV viewership in a quarter-century.
Nielsen announced Tuesday that Fox’s English-language broadcast drew 1.487 million viewers, and Univision’s Spanish-language broadcast (simulcast on cable channel TUDN) drew 668,000 viewers. The combined total of 2.155 million viewers is the biggest audience for an MLS Cup final since 1997, the league’s second year of existence, and the second-biggest in league history.
Philadelphia was the No. 1 local market for Fox’s broadcast with a 4.78 rating. That’s about 347,000 viewers, which is a bigger number than some MLS regular-season games draw from the entire country. The local rating peaked at 7.6, which is about 552,000 viewers.
That’s very good. MLS has always done well filling up stadiums and generating in-person interest, but really struggled to register TV viewers. Philly showed a lot of support for the Union this past weekend.
For some context here, MLS is still very far away from from “four major sports” when it comes to TV ratings. While MLS Cup did 2.155 million viewers this past weekend, the Avs/Lightning Stanley Cup averaged just about 5 million per game. Those numbers dipped to about 2.5 million per game finals game during the pandemic, but if you go back to Blues/Bruins and Caps/Golden Knights, those numbers were back up in the 4-5 million range.
The NBA Finals ratings from 2022 were right there with the World Series, getting about 12 million per game. That’s down from 10 years ago but still very good. Obviously the Super Bowl trumps all, then the World Series runs neck-and-neck with the NBA Finals, followed by the Stanley Cup Finals and MLS Cup. That’s how the ratings shake out these days.