The 2023 MLB World Series has been record-breaking, in a bad way, when it comes to TV ratings.
According to Sports Media Watch, Fox's coverage of Game 1 of the Texas Rangers vs. Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday averaged 9.17 million viewers — making it the least-watched Fall Classic Game 1 since viewership ratings began being tracked in 1972.
The previous low for a World Series Game 1 was set in 2020 — when the Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Dodgers squared off in the COVID "bubble" World Series — which received 9.35 million viewers. Aside from that and Friday's game, no other Game 1 has averaged less than 10.93 million viewers. Adding insult to injury, the Rangers' thrilling Game 1 walk-off win in extra innings tops only Game 3 in 2020 (which received 8.34 million viewers) as the least-watched World Series game of all-time.
That is, until Game 2 on Saturday.
Ratings for Game 2 of the 2023 World Series also recently released — and the 8.15 million viewers that it received on FOX made it the least-watched World Series game on record. This means that, two games in, this year's Diamondbacks-Rangers series already accounts for two of the three smallest audiences in World Series history.
While ratings for Game 3 on Monday haven't yet been released, considering how Games 1 and 2 fared and that Monday Night Football on ESPN was airing at the same time, it's safe to assume that the viewership for it was equally abysmal.
There are a few explanations for this historic lack of interest in baseball's Fall Classic. One is that the Texas Rangers and Arizona Diamondbacks aren't major market teams. While this might not seem like a major factor on the surface, baseball has become much more of a regional TV draw than a national TV draw in recent years. Therefore, with no national stars and big TV markets that the World Series would have had with, for example, the New York Yankees or Los Angeles Dodgers, there just isn't the same interest across the country for this year's matchup.
Although the MLB commissioner's office would never say this, one would imagine they're hoping for a big market team to return to the World Series next season.
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