The Red Sox and Patriots games combined for a staggering 81 percent viewership share in the Boston market Sunday night.
That means of the televisions in use, 81 percent were watching either the Red Sox defeat the Astros in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series on TBS or the Patriots’ thrilling 43-40 victory over the unbeaten Chiefs on NBC’s “Sunday Night Football.”
Forget the obvious question: What were the other 19 percent watching? These are excellent ratings for both NBC and TBS in this market, and expectations were high going in.
In Boston, the Patriots earned a 34.3 rating — meaning the percentage of televisions, in or out of use, in a market that were watching — and a 51 share. The Red Sox’ 7-5 victory got a 20.6 rating and a 30 share in the market.
Nationally, Patriots-Chiefs earned a 14.6 rating nationally, peaking at 16.2 in the 11-11:30 p.m. window, making it the most-watched program on television. It was the highest-rated Sunday night NFL game since Week 1 of the 2017 season, and up 34 percent over last year’s Week 6 Sunday game (Giants-Broncos). It also tied for the highest-rated Week 6 game (Patriots-Colts, 2015) in “Sunday Night Football’s” 13 seasons.
Over on TBS, the baseball game earned a 4.1 rating nationally, peaking at 5.0 from 9:45-10 p.m. The broadcast was the No. 1-rated program on cable Sunday night.
As always when football and baseball go head to head, context is necessary. The NFL, because of the overall massive popularity of the sport despite its real problems, and because of the small number of games in a season, is not going to lose a ratings battle to an MLB game, even if the MLB game is for higher stakes.
Baseball may still get called “America’s pastime,” but the NFL’s ratings have begged to differ for a long time now. The NFL had higher ratings than the MLB playoff game Sunday night. But both NBC and TBS should be feeling good about their numbers.
Besides, most of us watched both, right?