Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw did his thing on the bump. Former AL MVP Mookie Betts drove in multiple runs as Los Angeles defeated the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 1 of the World Series Tuesday evening. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like many people were watching it. TV ratings Tuesday evening represented the lowest figure in World Series history.
Game 1 of Rays-Dodgers World Series posts worst TV ratings of all-time
“Tuesday’s Game 1 of the World Series (Rays-Dodgers) averaged 9.20 million viewers on FOX (9.48M including Fox Deportes and streaming), marking the least-watched game in the history of the event. The previous low was 9.84 million for Phillies-Rays Game 3 in 2008, a Saturday night game that began after 10 PM ET due to rain. Ratings were not immediately available,” Sports Media Watch noted on Wednesday.
While MLB TV ratings have not been impacted too much by the lack of interest in sports during the ongoing pandemic, this certainly is not great news for MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and Co.
The World Series in Arlington does include a limited number of fans in attendance. Even then, MLB is relying on corporate sponsorship and ad revenue to make for the lack of in-game attendance this season.
Sports TV ratings have been down a great deal since live action games returned after a several-month hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic.
NBA Finals ratings drew record lows
- Game 1 of the Lakers-Heat NBA Finals series drew just 7.41 million viewers on ABC, the lowest total in the history of the Finals.
- Game 3 of the same NBA Finals series drew 5.94 million viewers. That topped Game 1 as the lowest-rated game in NBA Finals history.
- Overall, TV ratings during the 2020 NBA Playoffs were down an alarmingly high amount. However, it must be noted that the NBA Playoffs went up against the NFL regular season for the first time ever.
NFL ratings amid the national anthem protests
Another major backdrop to sports ratings has to be the ongoing national anthem protests following the murder of George Floyd back on May 25. Given that these protests are taking place in an election year, the divisive nature of them adds another layer to this.
The NFL has been no different. Let’s just look at “Sunday Night Football” as a major example.
- Sunday Night Football, Week 5: 15.08 million viewers for Minnesota Vikings at Seattle Seahawks
- SNF, Week 4: 15.08 million viewers for Philadelphia Eagles at San Francisco 49ers, 11.71 million early
- SNF, Week 3: 16.57 million for Green Bay Packers at New Orleans Saints
- SNF, Week 2: 17.69 million viewers for New England Patriots at Seattle Seahawks, steep decline from 2019
- SNF, Week 1: 18.94 million viewers for Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams, huge drop from 2019 SNF opener
A total of eight “Sunday Night Football” game last season had north of 20 million viewers tune in. Obviously, we’re seeing a steep decline here.
Sports TV ratings and national anthem protests
At this point, it’s safe to assume that there’s some correlation between protests and fewer people tuning in to team sporting events. The three major professional sports leagues in North America add another layer to this.
- NFL: The 2020 season started with members of the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans taking part in protests. It snowballed from there with high-profile individuals coming out in support of said protests.
- NBA: Once the 2019-20 season resumed at Walt Disney World in late July, teams immediately took a knee during the national anthem. Following the shooting of Jacob Blake in August by a Kenosha, WI. police officer, teams actually boycotted NBA Playoff action for a couple days.
MLB: Pretty much one of the biggest protest-related shocks around the sports world was when every team in MLB took part in a form of protests during the national anthem. It took place opening week and shocked the masses.
As for the World Series, it will be interesting to see how the remaining games do when it comes to TV ratings. Right now, it’s not looking great.