Sports TV Ratings Are Sharply Down, No FOMO Fears

So much for TV sports being the savior of the early part of the new TV season.

Major sports franchises — the NBA and Major League Baseball — have been hit with ongoing 35% to 50% declines in TV ratings.

Lack of interest, competition from premium streaming services’ content, other media consumption, are some of the reasons cited.

What about the lack of excitement from low, or no, stadium/arena fans and those who watch sports on TV?

The first game of this year’s World Series pulled in 11,388 fans — a level not seen since 1909 — when, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, the first game between the Detroit Tigers-Pittsburgh Pirates pulled in 10,535.

This comes, naturally, to the expected consequence of all games to be played at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, which is allowing only 28% of its 40,518 capacity to be fill with sports fans, due to pandemic restrictions.



More restrictions: Those who are attending need to wear a mask and can only access limited food/beverage options. Good news is that one can stay at home and have more freedoms, watching on a big TV screen, for one.

The results are in, TV-wise: The first game of this year’s Major League Baseball’s World Series, where the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 8-3, took in 9.2 million viewers.

This is a similar drop to what the NBA went through recently with its NBA Finals event where the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Miami Heat in six games. Nielsen-measured TV ratings fell 51% to an average 7.5 million/per game from the previous year.

Last year through seven World Series games, Fox Television Network averaged 13.9 million viewers -- with game seven pulling in a big 23 million viewers.

NBA and Major League Baseball aside, some of this isn’t affecting all sports. Through six weeks of the season, NFL TV ratings are down just 11% to around 14.5 million viewers per game.

For the NFL, however, you always need to account for the supply-and-demand thing: Way fewer NFL games -- regular season and playoffs versus the NBA and MLB. So every NFL contest carries much more weight.

Concerning lack of fans in stands, and empty stadiums/arenas, maybe it translates into a FOMO thing. If you don’t have a ‘fear of missing out’ anything, maybe you aren’t making strong moves to see it.

Jump to next spring, while the U.S. is still predicted to gripped by the pandemic. How super will the Super Bowl be next February (or a bit later if it is delayed) on the field and/or in front of TV screens?

This story has been updated: An early version of the story mistakenly reported the World Series's first game took in a weak, 7.2 million viewers on the Fox Television Network, down 40% from the same game a year ago, when it earned 12.1 million viewers.

3 comments about "Sports TV Ratings Are Sharply Down, No FOMO Fears".
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  1. Brad Bullock from Effectv, October 23, 2020 at 2:22 p.m.

    Let's not forget there are many discrations, and multiple venues playing at the same time, shifted schedules leading to unknown airtime, re-scheduled, etc. etc. I don't believe it's for the lack of interest or desire. It's confusing.

  2. Sal Tofano from Visionary Communications, October 23, 2020 at 3:03 p.m.

    The most obvious reasons why the major sports have declined are skirted. Fan interest has dwindled because of too much politicking that has turned off millions of Americans. Re-engineering sports into a political platform is a no no. There are thousands of men and women in armed forces, veterans, police and law enforcement who are fans and tired of the American bashing, flag kneeling and disrespect. If you don't see this, then you are part of the problem. Secondly this is a presidential election year and all the news platforms are siphoning away interest. Thirdly amidst a major pandemic,many are prioritizing their time between family and work and may not have time for sports. Also social media is dominating the airwaves and taking away viewers. Lastly like any program content the demographics are changing. Baseball skews older and MLB has failed to enage in younger audiences. Also the fact that many have been locked down for months - and can't play sports - tennis, baseball, football, basketball have all been cancelled in schools which certainly could be impacting ineterst 

  3. Ben B from Retired, October 23, 2020 at 7:46 p.m.

    I have been watching a lot of sports now that they are back I missed sports when lockdowns happened. You can't pinpoint one thing on why sports ratings have been down as it's really just a narrative type thing largely with politics which sports and politics were big in the '60s and '70s it was political. The trend went down in the '80s to the early 2000s with politics and sports it went up in 2016 and now.

    I'll never stop watching sports as it's a way to relax for a few hours and get away from the doom & gloom of the world. 

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