Game 1 of the 2020 World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Tampa Bay Rays drew record-low TV ratings Tuesday night, generating the worst viewership in history for the opener of the Fall Classic.

Approximately 9.195 million people watched the Dodgers beat the Rays at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. Game 1 of the 2008 World Series featuring the Rays and Philadelphia Phillies had held the record for futility with an audience of 9.836 million, and that contest started late on a Saturday night after a rain delay.

Last year’s Game 1 between the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros was seen by 12.194 million viewers. 

 

 

MLB is not alone in struggling to draw satisfying ratings. It’s an issue that has struck virtually all sports over the last few months.

Baseball’s ratings are not so bad compared to basketball, considering the World Series opener outdrew Game 1 of the NBA Finals significantly. Only 7.576 million people watched the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat tip off their series on Sept. 30, marking a new low for the league.

The previous low for any Finals game was 8.06 million for Game 2 of the 2003 series according to Sports Media Watch. When LeBron James and the Lakers clinched the title in Game 6, only 8.29 million viewers tuned in, setting another low and marking a 56% decrease from the 2019 Finals clincher.

The Stanley Cup ratings were down by a large margin. NFL viewership has dipped a little, though the league’s viewership remains strong overall.

It hasn’t been all bad news for MLB. Game 7 of the NLCS averaged 9.66 million viewers, despite going up against “Sunday Night Football.” It was baseball’s most-watched game outside of a World Series in three years.

 

 

 

The NLCS finale between the Dodgers and Atlanta Braves was a highly competitive one-run game, decided by Cody Bellinger’s game-winning home run in the seventh inning. Game 1 of the World Series was essentially over in the sixth inning when Los Angeles took a commanding 8-1 lead over Tampa Bay.

There are likely many factors in play for declining ratings in each individual sport. The pandemic caused a change in the sports calendar, giving fans more options than ever before. People are watching more news during the election cycle. Cord-cutting also might be playing a role.

MLB is concluding arguably its most unique season ever. The league went from a traditional 162-game schedule to just 60 games for each team, pushing Opening Day by four months. The Dodgers and Rays are playing at a neutral site with just north of 11,000 fans in attendance.

If the World Series is competitive, there will still be plenty of viewing tuning in.

Dodgers World Series The Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate their 8-3 victory against the Tampa Bay Rays in Game One of the 2020 MLB World Series at Globe Life Field on October 20, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. Photo: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images