Before Sunday’s clinching game, when the San Francisco Giants closed out the World Series in sweeping the Detroit Tigers four games to none to win their second title in three years, this World Series had been the lowest-rated ever, according to USA Today. Final numbers for the last game are not yet calculated, but seeing as it was going up against Sunday Night Football on NBC, normally the most highly-watched program of the week, things are not looking good for what was once America’s pastime.
This is not a new trend. The past seven years have brought the seven lowest-rated World Series; even so, MLB TV rights have been secured for the next eight years with Fox for broadcast television and TBS and ESPN on cable TV. Some are presupposing that the low ratings are due to the lack of a major moneymaker franchise in the mix, like the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox or Chicago Cubs, but the series does not lack in star power; the likely MVPs for each league, San Francisco’s catcher Buster Posey and Detroit third baseman Miguel Cabrera were both present in this series, as well as American League Cy Young favorite Justin Verlander. The ratings would likely have been higher had the Yankees or Sox been involved, but it’s more of an indication of a complete shift in sports loyalty by many Americans: football is now the favorite sport to watch in America, bar none.
Why has football taken over? Fantasy football and gambling are the major reasons, but also there are only 16 games a year per team, compared to 162 for baseball, allowing each game to be presented as an event. By the time the World Series rolls around, many sports fans have baseball fatigue; and if your team’s not in, why continue to watch, especially when football’s on?