2023 World Series: Will Rangers vs Diamondbacks Be Lowest Rated Series Ever?

2023 World Series: Will Rangers vs Diamondbacks Be Lowest Rated Series Ever?
Fact Checked by Nate Hamilton

Baseball fans in North Texas are delighted. Their counterparts in Arizona are ecstatically surprised. However, folks who count on baseball’s World Series to deliver millions and millions of TV viewers are probably fretting a bit.

With the Texas Rangers squaring off against the Arizona Diamondbacks in baseball’s Fall Classic, there has to be a concern that the match-up between the two unlikely arrivals to this moment on the baseball calendar won’t do much to stir the interest of sports fans outside of were those teams actually call home. Maybe if Texas sports betting was legal, there would be a bit more interest in this series.

In fact, there’s a chance that a Rangers-Diamondbacks World Series will challenge for a dubious milestone in sports history – the all-time lowest TV ratings for a World Series.

The Lowest Rated World Series Is...

So far, the lowest TV ratings for a World Series was the one that followed the abbreviated COVID-19 pandemic season in 2020. In that championship Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers beat Tampa Bay in six games. That World Series drew an average TV viewership of 9.785 million.

In contrast, the highest-ever TV ratings for a World Series was in 1978 between the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers with an average viewership of 44.279 million.

The numbers tell an obvious tale that watching baseball on TV is simply not as compelling for audiences in the 21st century as it was 40 years ago. The five highest TV ratings for the World Series were from 1978 through 1982. The three lowest TV ratings for the Series were from 2020 through 2022.  Last year’s World Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and Houston Astros drew an average viewership of 11.762 million, better than the 2020 low point, but far below the 42.3 million in 1980 when the Mike Schmidt Phillies beat the George Brett Kansas City Royals.

Will Rangers & Diamondbacks World Series Ratings Suffer?

Game 1 of the 2023 World Series is Friday, Oct. 27, 8:05 p.m., ET, at the Rangers’ Globe Life Field in Arlington, and  FOX Sports is the network carrying the World Series in the conventional television broadcast. FOX Deportes will have the Spanish-language broadcast. Streaming video will be on FOX Sports Go and MLB.tv. This year’s World Series may have trouble besting the 2020 low point.

Both the Rangers and the Diamondbacks lack star power. In fact, both teams were celebrated for their respective comebacks in the two League Championship Series. They wound up beating opponents who did have some star power – the Astros were the defending MLB champions, and the Phillies had four players in their lineup with combined salaries of $90 million compared with Arizona’s total roster salary of about $116 million. 

In 2021, the Diamondbacks lost 110 games and this season, they got into the postseason with an 84-78 record.  Likewise, the Rangers lost 102 games in 2021 and this season qualified as a Wild Card for the postseason with a 90-72 record.

While plucky underdogs make for heart-warming narratives, they likely won’t be enough to pull an easily distracted public from their mobile devices, especially with the NFL in full swing (although the World Series won’t be played on Sunday, Oct. 29). The Rangers’ Corey Seager and Adolis Garcia are solid players and so are the Diamondbacks’ Christian Walker, Ketel Marte and Lourdes Gurriel Jr., but they’re not in the sports-celebrity class of Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Christian McCaffrey, Lamar Jackson,  Jalen Hurts, and on and on. Not to mention, the NBA season is beginning, and the NHL is already underway.

This season, baseball did see a substantial uptick in live attendance, which was attributed to rules changes to make the game faster and more exciting. However, that nice lift for the grand old game of baseball will not likely get much of an exclamation point when the World Series TV ratings are tallied.

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Bill Ordine
Senior Journalist

Bill Ordine, senior journalist and columnist for BetTexas.com, was a reporter and editor in news and sports for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Baltimore Sun for 25 years, and was a lead reporter on a team that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News.

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