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The NFL’s decline in television ratings took its biggest hit yet on Sunday, as its marquee “Sunday Night Football” game lost to Game 5 of the World Series among sports fans watching on TV.
The Chicago Cubs’ 3-2 victory to stave off elimination by the Cleveland Indians drew an estimated 21.5 million viewers, according to Variety. That easily topped the estimated 17.2 million viewers for the Dallas Cowboys’ 29-23 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, a game featuring two of the NFL’s most popular teams.
While it may seem like a no-brainer for baseball’s championship event to beat out a regular-season football game, it is actually far more common for the football game to win. Here are the audience sizes for the past four years when the World Series went head-to-head with “Sunday Night Football,” according to Sports Media Watch.
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The World Series has most likely been boosted by the presence of the Chicago Cubs, which are competing in it for the first time since 1945. At the same time, NFL ratings have been consistently down this season.
Maybe this is just a perfect storm for Major League Baseball, but for once we have seen that the all-powerful NFL can be beaten, even in its biggest time slot.