The Fall Classic between Kansas City and San Francisco, headed to its sixth game on Tuesday night, has only served to amplify baseball's loosening grip on armchair fans, particularly in comparison to professional football.
Through five games, the Series has averaged 12.07 million viewers on Fox, the Nielsen Co. said. Currently, the least-watched Series ever was the Giants' four-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers two years ago. None of the first five games has even topped 13 million people, Nielsen said.
By contrast, three regular-season NFL games that aired in prime time last week, on CBS, NBC and ESPN, all had more than 13 million, with CBS' Thursday night game getting more than 20 million viewers.
Most likely, only a winner-take-all seventh game would help this Giants-Royals matchup avoid the dubious distinction of least popular World Series since it became a regular TV fixture.
World Series seventh games — baseball's ultimate event — have happened only five times since 1988. The least-watched seventh game, with the St. Louis Cardinals beating the Texas Rangers in 2011, had 25.4 million viewers. The 1991 game between Minnesota Twins and Atlanta Braves drew a staggering 50 million viewers.
Five World Series games in prime time couldn't help Fox win last week in the ratings, although the network led among viewers ages 18 to 49.
The ABC comedy "Manhattan Love Story," won a contest no TV show ever wants to: first new fall series to be cancelled. Its last episode last week had 2.6 million viewers, fewer than any other first-run shows last week on the four biggest networks.
CBS won the week with an average of 11.5 million viewers in prime time. Fox had 10.1 million viewers, NBC had 7.8 million, ABC had 6.6 million, Univision had 2.8 million, the CW had 1.7 million, ION Television had 1.2 million and Telemundo had 1.1 million.
ESPN was the week's most popular cable network, averaging 2.95 million viewers in prime time. AMC had 1.73 million, the Disney Channel had 1.71 million, Fox News Channel had 1.64 million and USA had 1.62 million.
NBC's "Nightly News" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 8.4 million viewers. ABC's "World News Tonight" was second with 7.9 million and the "CBS Evening News" had 6.5 million viewers.
For the week of Oct. 20-26, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: NFL Football: San Diego at Denver, CBS, 20.22 million; NFL Football: Green Bay at New Orleans, NBC, 18.8 million; "NCIS," CBS, 17.13 million; "NCIS: New Orleans," CBS, 16.13 million; "The Big Bang Theory," CBS, 16.02 million; "The Walking Dead," AMC, 13.8 million; "Sunday Night NFL Pre-Kick," NBC, 13.55 million; NFL Football: Houston at Pittsburgh, ESPN, 13.28 million; Minutes," CBS, 13.23 million; World Series Game 2: San Francisco at Kansas City, Fox, 12.92 million.
ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co. CBS is owned by CBS Corp. CW is a joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corp. Fox is owned by 21st Century Fox. NBC and Telemundo are owned by Comcast Corp. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks.