Featuring the White Sox and Yankees in Iowa was the highest-rated regular season game since 2005
If you build it, they will come.
Well, they came all right – and proved to be a boon for Major League Baseball.
The inaugural Field Of Dreams game – set in Dyersville, Iowa (located in the Cedar Rapids-Waterloo-Dubuque market) in a newly-built ballfield not far from where much of the 1989 movie Field Of Dreams was filmed, was a smash box office hit. The game featuring the Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees drew 5.9 million viewers – the largest draw for a regular season MLB game since 2005. The game peaked with just over 6 million viewers between 7:45 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Central time. It was the first professional baseball game to take place in Iowa.
The Field Of Dreams Game was also the most streamed baseball contest in Fox Sports’ history (numbers however, weren’t immediately made available.)
Chicago was the top market for the game with a 11.2 household rating and 25 share for Fox-owned WFLD-TV making it the highest-rated White Sox game in the market since a 2008 playoff game against Tampa Bay. In New York, the game drew a 6.6/14 for Fox-owned WNYW in the Yankees’ home market.
Other top markets were St. Louis (KTVI, 6/13); Hartford-New Haven (WTIC, 5.6/12) and Kansas City (WDAF, also a 5.6/12.)
And among demos, the game was a hit – drawing a 1.5 rating and 1.958 million viewers in the adult 18-49 demo. In the key 25-54 demo, the game also drew a 1.5 rating and a 1.8 among males in the same demo. Among adults 18-34, the game drew a 0.9.
Competitive throughout, the game was capped by a dramatic walk-off home run by White Sox star Tim Anderson to win the game 9-8. Even though a few mocked the concept on social media, reception to the game was generally positive with an appearance by Field Of Dreams star Kevin Costner, who helped introduce the game on the field and was also in the Fox booth as a guest for an inning or so.
Other competition Thursday night included CBS’ lineup of Big Brother and Love Island and NBC’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine and reality competition series Making It. Brother was the highest-rated entertainment show with 4.58 million viewers and a 1.2 adult 18-49 demo rating, though network schedules were pre-empted by several stations in the northeast for pre-season football.
The Fields of Dreams game did a great job of paying homage to the baseball’s past. The stadium and the surrounding view were absolutely awesome and the atmosphere was tremendous. And of course, the game itself was a treat. If you recall, the NHL created a similar “special game” concept called The Winter Classic on New Year’s Day 2008 held in the Buffalo Bills’ home stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y. marking the first time a regular-season hockey game was held outdoors. The game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Buffalo Sabres was indeed a classic in the falling snow with the Pens’ Sidney Crosby scoring the winning goal in a shootout. It was a ratings smash, and the Winter Classic became an annual NHL staple.
With Major League Baseball weathering numerous controversies including a 2017 Astros cheating scandal, declining ratings on regional sports networks, and a general pessimistic attitude about how the sport is run these days (look no further than what’s going on with the Cubs), this is one concept the league got right and will be sticking around for years to come.