In their first championship since 1988 and with baseman Justin Turner pulled from the game late after it was found he tested positive for COVID-19, the Dodgers took down the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 in Game 6 on Fox.
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) October 28, 2020
Of course, it was a very different type of World Series from back in the last year of Ronald Reagan’s presidency. With the coronavirus pandemic still raging across America, it actually was a very different type of World Series compared to any year. In that context, it has also been a World Series of record low viewership and, facing the Season 5 premiere of This Is Us, last night was no exception – even as Angelinos took to the streets in droves for distinctly non-socially distanced celebrations.
Delayed this morning because of “processing issues” at Nielsen, the early numbers have the 2020 World Series Game 6 watched by 10.3 million fans, with a 2.7 rating in the adults 18-49 demographic. That is an easy win for the night for Fox, with NBC second with a 1.2 rating and 7.2 million viewers in Nielsen’s unadjusted Live+Same Day fast affiliates.
However, while up 2% from this year’s Game 5 in initial audience, last night’s game is down a hard 37% in sets of eyeballs from Game 6 of the 2019 World Series on October 29 last year. It is also an audience drop of 55% from last year’s Game 7 of October 30, 2019, when 43,000 at Minute Maid Park watched the Washington Nationals beat the Houston Astros 6-2.
So far, last night was the least watched Game 6 of any World Series ever. In terms of the key demo, last night’s Dodgers win face-planted 34% from the equivalent in 2019.
As a point of historical fact, for you elders of the tribe, last night’s game was also way down from the 38.8 million who tuned in on October 20, 1988 on NBC. Just days before a presidential election that saw then-VP George H.W. Bush pitted against Massachusetts Gov. Mike Dukakis, the Dodgers beat the Oakland A’s 5-2 to win that World Series in five games.
Coming out of The Voice (1.0, 7.44M), which was steady with last week’s premiere, NBC debuted the fifth season of This Is Us (1.3, 7.07M), which lead the night among non-sports fare. Going up against the World Series, the Emmy-winning drama fully immersed us in the Pearson family’s life as they navigated the pandemic and the death of George Floyd.
In the early numbers, the September 24, 2019 Season 4 premiere of This Is Us, which did not face the World Series, snagged 7.88 million sets of eyeballs and a 1.8 rating among the key demo. All of which means, with a 28% demo drop, last night was the lowest-rated This Is Us opener ever.
Compared to the final fourth-season premiere numbers, last night could end up being significantly down once the Season 5 premiere final results are posted. To date, the last season premiere of This Is Us clocked in at a 7.9 rating in the demo and amassed 22.2 million viewers when including digital and linear delayed viewership, meaning it likely quadrupled its next-day 18-49 rating and added nearly 14.3 million viewers.
However, considering the current landscape of TV and the word-of-mouth buzz of the show’s timely issues of COVID, social injustice and racial identity, the L+SD numbers are just a starting point. This Is Us has found different ways to reach its audience. Last season, digital viewership accounted for 39% of the drama’s 35-day 18-49 rating, up from 34% the previous season.
On the rest of TV, CBS aired primetime editions of The Price Is Right (0.7, 4.93M) and Let’s Make a Deal (0.6, 3.95M). FBI Declassified (0.3, 2.52M) ended the network’s night, dipping a tenth in the demo compared with last week.
ABC’s The Bachelorette (1.2, 4.35M) fared well against This Is Us and the World Series, up in the demo from last week. Elsewhere, The CW’s Swamp Thing (0.2, 916,000) saw a tick up, while Tell Me A Story (0.1, 482K) held steady.