Tonight's first World Series Game 7 in nine years is also the first on a Friday since 1924, 15 years before the first baseball game was ever televised. While Fox will get a huge boost in the ratings, a number of factors could work for and against how big that boost is.
Primary to Fox's advantage, of course, is that people pay attention to Game 7s.
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In addition, tonight offers little competition in the way of regularly scheduled programming. CBS, which typically has the most overall viewers, announced this morning it was removing firstrun programming from its schedule this evening, instead airing repeats of "A Gifted Man," "CSI: Miami" and "CSI: NY." As of this writing, As of this writing, ABC and the CW are sticking with their firstrun programming, the highest-rated of which was ABC's "20/20," which airs at 10 p.m., five hours (on the East Coast) after the first pitch of Game 7.
NBC will have the season premiere of "Chuck" followed by the series premiere of "Grimm" and then "Dateline" — a combo that's expected to be a non-factor.
As you can see in the chart above, Fox has a right to expect an increase of 50%, if not more, from its Game 6 audience, which was roughly 20 million viewers (pending afternoon updates). That would put Game 7 in position to draw about 30 million viewers, topping the 28.7 million that watched the first Ashton Kutcher episode of "Two and a Half Men" as the most-seen program of the year since the Academy Awards.
Working against Fox is that overall viewership declines on Fridays, fueled by high school football and other weekend plans.
All in all, given the fact that last week's episodes of "Kitchen Nightmares" and "Fringe" combined to average 2.6 million viewers for Fox in primetime, the network brass are happy as clams that St. Louis and Texas have managed to go the distance.
Update: The official viewership for Game 6 was 21.1 million, the most for a World Series game that didn't involve the New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox since Game 7 in 2002.
National viewership peaked at 25.2 million after midnight Eastern. In St. Louis and Dallas, Game 6 broke an 80 share at its peak.