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This time of year, much is made of MLB's postseason television ratings, usually as a way to impugn the game's standing. Well, this time around, the news is good for baseball. From an MLB press release on the TV returns for October 2013:
For the entire month of Postseason baseball beginning with the Wild Card games, viewership increased +20% across FOX, TBS and MLB Network (6.3 million average viewers), the largest year-over-year increase since 2009. In addition, 2013 marks the first year since 2001 that viewership increased for every round of the Postseason as well as the All-Star Game.
The World Series finished with an average of 14.9 million viewers, up +17% over last year and marking the largest year-over-year viewership increase for the World Series since 2009. As for Game 6 on Wednesday night, 19.2 million viewers tuned in, making it the most-watched MLB game since Game 7 of the 2011 World Series, based on Nielsen data. The game was the highest-rated show across all of television on Wednesday, and FOX once again won the night in primetime against all competition, something it has done on all six nights of the World Series.
To be sure, having two flagship franchises with widespread fan bases like the Red Sox and Cardinals take part in a six-game World Series surely helped, but so did having the Dodgers stick around until deep into the NLCS. In any context, though, a 20 percent jump in total viewership for the month is big news.
The other, related takeaway is that those looking for signs of baseball's imminent demise will need to search elsewhere.