The thrilling Game 7 matchup in which the Cubs defeated the Cleveland Indians 8-7 in 10 innings, overcoming several Cleveland rallies and a 17-minute rain delay at the end of the ninth, had 40 million viewers, according to Nielsen fast national ratings, and a 12.6 rating in the 18-49 demo.
Viewership peaked with 49.9 million viewers watching between 11:30 and 11:45.
50.3 million tuned in to see the Minnesota Twins defeat the Atlanta Braves in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series — and just edges Game 7 of the 2001 World Series, when 39.1 million watched as the Arizona Diamondbacks beat the New York Yankees.
Wednesday night's Game 7 is the most-watched telecast since Super Bowl 50, which drew 111.9 million viewers, in February. It beat every night of NBC's Rio Olympics coverage, which topped out when 33.4 million watched Michael Phelps win his record-breaking 20th and 21st gold medals on Tuesday, Aug. 9. And it also dwarfs the 34.4 million viewers for the Oscars in March.
These numbers should not be taken lightly in terms of what they mean for baseball’s future. The game was compelling despite its length, with both teams making great plays and both teams blowing leads. There are many terrific young stars on both the Cubs and Indians, and Major League Baseball ought to go out of its way to promote not only the big names like Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Mike Napoli, but younger, up-and-coming stars like Javier Baez and Francisco Lindor. All of these men are not only great players, but popular among many different segments of baseball’s fanbase.
MLB has an enormous opportunity here. The “baseball is dying, you guys” meme has been popular among a certain group of writers in recent years, but the reality is — at least the way I see it — is that baseball’s popularity has never had a better chance to be higher.
The Cubs have not only touched all of us, but touched the nation and the world. I’ve done a number of radio spots with EON Sports Radio in Australia recently. People Down Under can’t seem to get enough Cubs baseball right now.
The popularity of our favorite team can do quite a bit for growing the sport going forward.