The Sports Media Watch blog published a list of the TV ratings for every game of the World Series for the last forty years. It's kind of a fascinating look at how baseball - once the king of the hill in terms of TV ratings - has dropped off, in terms of share of the national consciousness. In the 1970s, World Series games were regularly watched by more than 30% of the households in the country that owned a television. In 2011, the best rated-game was Game 7, which drew a 14.1, and Games 1-5 couldn't even crack the 10% mark.
A few tidbits about the Twins - and more specifically, about the 1987 and 1991 World Series:
Game 7 in 1991 was the last World Series game to be watched by more than 30% of households, or by more than 50 million people. With the direction the ratings are moving at the moment, it might be safe to say that there will never be another World Series game that cracks those barriers; the 2011 World Series was watched by an average of less than 5% of people in the 18-49 age bracket.
Here's the top five in ratings over the past three decades:
- Game 7, 1986: New York-Boston, 38.9
- Game 7, 1982: St. Louis-Milwaukee, 38.2
- Game 7, 1987: St. Louis-Minnesota, 32.6
- Game 7, 1985: St. Louis-Kansas City, 32.6
- Game 7, 1991: Atlanta-Minnesota, 32.2
If you include 1972-1981 in that list, those games would drop down about twenty or thirty places.
There hasn't been a higher-rated Game 6 since the Twins and Braves drew a 25.4 in 1991. In fact, you can say the same about every game of that Series, all of which were seen by more than 20% of American TV viewers except for the first game. Even Game 1, which drew only a 17.6, is the highest-rated Game 1 of the past 21 years.
Just because I know you're wondering: the lowest-rated World Series game of all time was Game 3 in 2008. The Phillies beat the Rays 5-4, and the game drew a 6.1 rating. It was watched by just 9.8 million people, still the only World Series game ever to be watched by less than 10 million viewers.
I suppose this is all part of the great migration of baseball viewership over the past twenty years: local ratings are up, national ratings are in the tank. It's why local TV deals are so much more important than national TV deals; it's why the Rangers got $80 million a year from FSN Southwest even though nationally televised baseball games barely out-draw soccer games for viewership. Baseball has become the opposite of football in the TV game. And maybe that's not a bad thing.