No Longer America's Game? 2018 World Series Ratings Drop by Over 20 Percent Despite Red Sox Triumph

The Red Sox held the World Series trophy firmly in their hands on on Sunday, but baseball's grip on TV audiences continues to loosen.

According to Variety, the 2018 World Series on FOX Sports saw an average of 14.3 million viewers tune in for all five games. That's a drop of 23 percent from last year when the Houston Astros defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-3.

Admittedly, last season's finale was a winner-takes-all Game 7, while this year's contest ended within five games and the Red Sox looked a step ahead of the Dodgers throughout the series, with the exception of Game 3.

Nevertheless, the drop in viewership is remarkable and it made the series the fourth-least watched of the eight World Series played since the turn of the decade. The 2018 instalment of the World Series drew in the lowest number of viewers since the 2014 series between the San Francisco Giants and the Kansas City Royals averaged 13.9 million viewers over seven games.

Compared with 2016, this year's audience was 38 percent lower. Two years ago, the World Series were watched on average by 22.9 million spectators as the Chicago Cubs beat the Cleveland Indians in seven games and finally ended their 108-year wait for a title.

The series remains the most watched since 2005, when the White Sox thrashed the Astros 4-0.

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The Boston Red Sox celebrate their 5-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game Five to win the 2018 World Series at Dodger Stadium on October 28 in Los Angeles, California. Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Unsurprisingly, Game 5 was the most-watched game of the series, averaging 17.6 million viewers, a 29 percent increase from Game 4, which averaged 13.6 million. Of the three preceding games, an average of 13.8 million viewers tuned in for Game 1, dropping to 13.5 million and 13.3 million in Game 2 and 3 respectively.

According to a USA Today report published on Monday, Game 5 recorded a 12.3 rating, comfortably higher than the 9.3 recorded by NBC's Sunday Night Football, which saw the Minnesota Vikings take on the New Orleans Saints.

While the World Series came out on top against one of football's prime-time offerings, they fell short against another of the NFL's heavy hitter as the Green Bay Packers' matchup against the Rams in Los Angeles—which was aired on FOX ahead of Game 5—recorded a 15.0 rating.

The deciding game, however, was the fourth most-streamed game in World Series, according to FOX Sports. The broadcaster said an average of 240,000 viewers per minute streamed the game across all FOX streaming platforms, a 40 percent increase from Game 5 of the 2017 series.

The overall average-minute audience was also higher across the five games, coming in at 198,000, which represents a nine percent increase from last year's seven-game average of 182,000.

For so long considered to be America's game, baseball perhaps paid the price for the unflattering narratives that have been associated with the sport over the last 12 months. Additionally, the World Series match-up seemed to struggle to grab the interest of fans outside Los Angeles and Boston.

The Dodgers are still looking to end their 30-year title drought but that doesn't seem enough to stir emotions outside L.A., while the Red Sox were making their fourth World Series appearance in the last 15 years.