Florida and LSU's baseball teams celebrates during the Men's College World Series.
Photo by Jay Biggerstaff/Getty Images (left), Photo by Jay Biggerstaff/Getty Images (right)

The SEC Effect: Men's College World Series Hits Record-High TV Ratings

The 2023 Men's College World Series hit record viewership numbers on ESPN. LSU and the SEC can be thanked.

The 2023 Men's College World Series, especially the final round, didn't disappoint. It was by far one of the best in recent memory, and that showed in the ratings.

The final round of the MCWS pitted SEC rivals — the LSU Tigers and Florida Gators — against each other, two teams featuring top MLB prospects such as Paul Skenes, Wyatt Langford and Dylan Crews. The Tigers won the series in three games. LSU took Game 1 in extra innings, dropped Game 2 in historic fashion — losing 24-4 — and came back massively to win Game 3, 18-4.

Plenty of fantastic teams and powerhouse programs competed in the lead-up to this final round, including the No. 1 Wake Forest Demon Deacons, whom the Tigers topped to reach the final round.

All of the drama and action we witnessed translated extremely well in ratings on ESPN.

The 2023 MCWS Was a Ratings Hit

LSU celebrates its national title.

Photo by Jay Biggerstaff/Getty Images

Whether it was the SEC effect — LSU fans are nutty enough to buy hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of shots — or something else, this year's tournament in Omaha was simply different than past years. A combination of notable programs, top-flight players and even an underdog in Oral Roberts likely contributed to a huge ratings spike.

According to ESPN, the 2023 MCWS was the most-watched inn ESPN's history of airing it. The 16 games averaged 1.647 million viewers, which is up 48% from last year.

Now, let's look at the final series between Florida and LSU. Sure, it's the final, but the caliber of teams and prospects made it all the more exciting. It featured likely two of the top three picks in the 2023 MLB Draft in Crews and Langford, the nation's leading home run hitter (who also pitches) in Jac Caglianone, the flamethrowing Paul Skenes and Tommy White AKA "Tommy Tanks," whose heroics are the reason LSU made the finals.

Plus, these two teams are fierce rivals. It was a match made in heaven.

Game 1 had more viewers than Game 2, which makes sense because the Gators obliterated the Tigers and the game was well out of reach early on. Still, these games had a 68% and 38% increase in viewers, respectively, over Game 1 and Game 2 between Ole Miss and Oklahoma in 2022. This year's Game 1 averaged 2.745 million viewers, about 500,000 more than Game 2's 2.248 million.

Finally, there was the final game. Anytime there's a do-or-die game, it will draw interest — and that was the case in the MCWS.

With a peak viewership of 4.2 million, Game 3 boasted 3.586 million viewers as the Tigers won their seventh national title. This was easily the most-viewed MCWS game on ESPN of all time.

Call it the LSU or SEC effect. Now, we look toward the July 2023 MLB Draft to see where Langford, Crews, Skenes and others will land professionally.

MORE: Paul Skenes Carried His Injured Teammate in LSU's Celebration and Won Our Hearts