For the majority of Americans, the choice between watching an MLB team go for its first-ever championship in the World Series in primetime or the reigning NFL champions play a regular-season game on Sunday morning was apparently not much of a choice at all.
Although the final game of the World Series, a 5-0 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks that brought the Texas Rangers their first championship, averaged 11.48 million viewers on Fox last Wednesday, that strong number was not enough to prevent the five-game series from being the least-watched Fall Classic in recorded TV history.
In contrast to the viewership for the entire 2023 World Series, which averaged 9.11 million viewers (down from the all-time low 9.79 million average from the 2020 series when the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Tampa Bay Rays in six games), Sunday morning’s NFL game in Germany featuring the Kansas City Chiefs and the Miami Dolphins drew 9.6 million viewers on average, making it the most-watched NFL Network International game on record. The 9.6 million viewers for Dolphins-Chiefs in Frankfurt was a 66% increase over the 2022 Week 10 game in Munich featuring the Seattle Seahawks versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5.8 million), according to the NFL.
The number for Dolphins-Chiefs, which ended with Kansas City winning 21-14, will probably crush what the NFL will draw this Sunday when the 2023 International Games conclude at 9:30 a.m. with the Indianapolis Colts versus New England Patriots, as Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill are much bigger draws than Mac Jones and Gardner Minshew. Even still, MLB can’t be happy that there’s even a chance its championship-caliber product won’t draw as many eyeballs as a relatively meaningless game between a pair of teams that probably won’t even make the playoffs in the Colts and Patriots.
Of course, even in their depleted forms, the Patriots and Colts probably have more national appeal that the D-backs or Rangers. “I think it’s a good thing for the health of baseball to have new pennant winners and new champions, new teams playing in the World Series. You don’t want it to be the same market and the same brands every year,” Mike Mulvihill, Fox EVP of strategy and analytics, told the Associated Press. “But I admit it is difficult for ratings in the short term when you’ve got some brands paired up that don’t really have traditional national boards.”
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