World Series' Epic Game 7 Is Most-Watched in Quarter Century

by David Tanklefsky  |  11.03.2016

We’re not going to see another one like that for a very, very long time.

The Homeric 2016 World Series reached its historic conclusion in the early hours of Thursday morning when Mike Montgomery retired Michael Martinez on a slow-moving groundball to Kris Bryant. With that, the most celebrated curse—that of the billy goat—in American sports history came to an end.

It was a shockingly mundane final out in a battle that will go down as one of the defining games in the history of the sport. We saw one of the most dramatic postseason homers ever, in Rajai Davis’s game-tying two-run shot with two outs in the eighth. We saw grandpa David Ross, the 39-year-old Cubbies backstop, launch a homer off the most unhittable pitcher in the playoffs, Indians reliever Andrew Miller, in his final big league at-bat. We saw insane managerial gambles, leadoff homers and gratuitous Bill Murray cutaways.

This one was bigger than baseball. Hell, it was bigger than football in a time where nothing is bigger than football, recent trends notwithstanding. Unsurprisingly, ratings were massive.

The game drew 40.015 million viewers, making it the most-watched game in 25 years, dating back to another classic, the 1991 Twins/Braves contest that drew 40.8 million viewers in Game 6 and an astonishing 50.3 million for Game 7. That final game also ended in extra innings, with Minnesota winning a 1-0 pitcher’s duel on a walk-off single by Gene Larkin.

Last night’s game delivered a 25.2 rating/40 share, according to Nielsen, making it the highest-rated World Series game in 15 years, going back to another epic, 2001’s Diamondbacks/Yankees Game 7 (27.0/38). Last night’s game blew away the previous high from this series, Sunday night’s Game 5 (15.3) by a whopping 65 percent.

The series as a whole averaged a 14.9/25 in metered markets, making it the highest average rating since another unfathomably long curse was broken when the Red Sox beat the Cardinals in 2004 (17.3/26).

In the social media age, where baseball has been criticized for its numbingly long games and its lack of superstars, MLB proved its relevance, besting Game 7 of this year’s NBA Finals between the Cavs and Warriors (15.8/29) and regularly outperforming primetime football throughout the Series. Game 7 was the most-watched telecast in America this year outside of the Super Bowl.

In the local markets, the numbers were astronomical. In Cleveland, Game 7 earned a 48.6/69 rating, astonishing numbers when you consider their team was down by four runs in the fifth and three in the eighth. In the Windy City, the game drew a 51.2 rating and a 71 share, the highest baseball game on record. The rating in Chicago is the highest ever for a World Series clinching game in a two-team market. It was still behind a number of single-team markets, including the Red Sox in 2004 (59.0).

But with Wrigleyville still in a state of euphoria and a parade planned for tomorrow expected to draw millions, it’s hard to believe last night didn’t go 100/100 in Chicago.

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