The 2018 World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Boston Red Sox begins on Tuesday night on the Fox network. This is the Dodgers’ second consecutive Fall Classic appearance (Dodgers’ first back-to-back National League pennants since 1977 and 1978) while the Red Sox, which entered the playoffs with a Major League-leading 108 regular season wins and became the sixth team in history to defeat two 100-win teams (Yankees and Astros) within the same postseason, will attempt to win their fourth World Championship in 15 years in the post-Bambino Curse era.
Dodgers-Red Sox — their first World Series meeting since 1916 that had featured Babe Ruth on the Red Sox roster — is the best World Series matchup Fox could hope for after the New York Yankees and Chicago Cubs were each eliminated from the playoffs earlier this month. Both Los Angeles (2nd) and Boston (9th) rank in the nation’s top nine TV markets. Both teams are among the most recognizable in baseball with each having a long, storied history. MLB and Fox have high hopes as this matchup follows the two most recent Fall Classics — Chicago Cubs/Cleveland Indians in 2016 (23.4 million) and Houston Astros/Los Angeles Dodgers in 2017 (18.9 million) — that were ratings successes.
According to a poll of our Twitter followers, however, those on social media are a bit less enthused. 53 percent said the World Series would average under 17 million viewers.
An average of nearly 15 million viewers tuned in to the six-game 2013 World Series — the most recent Series the Boston Red Sox had appeared in, when they defeated the St. Louis Cardinals.
I inquired with professionals in the media industry to provide their ratings prognostications for the upcoming World Series. Here are their takes (as for me, I’m predicting 18 million and it’ll go five games with the Red Sox victorious; well over 20 million if the Series lasts at least six games):
Dan Serafin, News 12 The Bronx/Brooklyn sports anchor
9.5 [household rating, 16.5-17.0 million viewers]… A 7-game series might get the number to double-digits, but sports fans outside of the host cities have moved on to basketball, they’ll take the extra sleep.
Scott Nolte, KUYY deejay/sports announcer
I have the same as you with Boston but I’m going to go six games and 21 million.
Jason Jacobs, KUOO deejay/sports announcer
I am going to predict this series can match last year’s Houston/LA series. You have two big markets with big followings involved. If it goes at least 6 games I think it could do even better than last year.
Jon Lewis, Sports Media Watch
I’ll say average of 17.8 million for what I believe is going to be a short series (I’m a prisoner of the moment, so I’m thinking Red Sox in five). Last year’s World Series averaged 16.4M over five games and 2016 averaged 19.3M.
Robert Seidman, SportsTVRatings.com
5 games or less: 18.5 million. 6+ games, 20 million. There’s no debate the Red Sox are a huge national draw and there’s no debate that Los Angeles is a huge market based on population, BUT entering this series I would very willingly debate the idea that the Dodgers are a national draw.
T Dog Media
Here’s my prediction on the Red Sox-Dodgers WS: 20.6 million viewers. Matchup should do well due to storied, well-known teams and big fanbases.
Lou D’Ermilio, LOUD Communications/XFL, former Senior Vice President of Fox Sports media relations
20.1 million – Given that LA is a constant, Boston and Houston are similar in size and assuming a compelling seven-game Series, my sense is that the Red Sox are a stronger attraction locally than the Astros, have more cache among casual fans nationally, and will also be a strong draw in Hartford/New Haven and the New England states – all accounting for a +10% increase over last year.
Austin Karp, SportsBusiness Daily assistant managing editor
Assuming at least 6 games, I’d say World Series viewership will be around 20 million. Two strong media markets, and Red Sox fans always tune in big when their team reaches the World Series.
Maury Brown, Forbes
18.5 million. That number would be less than what we saw for the 2016 World Series with Cubs breaking the futility streak, but the big markets and brands should support a large audience. I would add that it all depends on how many games it all goes. Six is good. Seven is what FOX is hoping for.
Michael McCarthy, Sporting News
Flyover Country won’t be as enthralled by Boston’s latest trip to World Series. 18.5 million.
Derek Rogers, WCBI-TV General Manager
Let’s go with 20.5 million, 6 games for LA Dodgers / Boston. Two major markets in Boston and LA is the main reason. My prediction is Red Sox in 6.
Tony Maglio, The Wrap
To guess anything even approaching the high teens-to-20 million, one would be pretty much saying the series is going 7 games for a third year in a row. Odds are more that it won’t than it will. As foolish as it is to even wager a guess knowing that ratings are more based on competitiveness than markets, I’ll play your game and say 15.9 million. Though honestly it’s so tied to the length of the series. I’ve got Boston in 5, but hedging for 6.
Vince Wladika, VMW Communications
19.8 million. Of course that assumes 7 games. It will benefit from all the Yankee fans who will watch to root against the Red Sox.
Phillip Swann, TV Answer Man
25M for Sox-Dodgers. Not only two big markets, but one that’s crazy (Boston), as evidenced by the recent 81 share on Sunday night for Sox and Patriots.