World Series Viewers Fall 30% in Latest Sign of Sports Weakness

Major League Baseball’s World Series, won by the Los Angeles Dodgers for the first time since 1988, drew an average of 9.79 million TV viewers over six nights, a 30% decline from the seven games last year.

The audience for U.S. baseball’s annual championship has been falling since the late 1970s and early 1980s, when 40 million or more people regularly tuned in.

Sports of all stripes have seen viewer numbers decline due in part to the coronavirus, which forced many of them to play shortened seasons and compete with one another for TV viewers at the same time.

Viewers also have been more focused on TV news -- whether it’s coverage of the presidential election or the global pandemic. And protests against law enforcement by players may have turned some fans away.

The Dodgers beat the Tampa Bay Rays four games to two in a series that was played on the neutral ground of the new Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. Fox Corp., which aired the series on its main broadcast network, reported the Nielsen ratings Wednesday in a statement.

Live sports was once viewed as a sure thing in a broadcast TV world increasingly losing viewers to online streaming and other forms of entertainment. But this year, the audience for the NBA finals slumped 51% and it tumbled 61% for the NHL’s Stanley Cup championship.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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