NEW YORK (AP) -- An average of 14 million people watched the first four games of the World Series between Boston and St. Louis, but the best news for broadcaster Fox is that the Fall Classic is still going on.
Only two World Series in the TV era had fewer viewers than this year's matchup so far: last year's series between San Francisco and Detroit and the 2008 series between Philadelphia and Tampa Bay, Nielsen Co. said.
That average is virtually certain to rise with a sixth game scheduled for Tuesday night and could increase significantly if the Cardinals win and force a seventh game.
So far this century, three series have gone the full seven games — in 2001, 2002 and 2011. None of those final games reached fewer than the 25.4 million people who watched the conclusion of the St. Louis-Texas series two years ago, Nielsen said. Generally speaking, the longer and more competitive a World Series is, the greater the viewer interest.
Both a sixth and seventh game this year would also air without competition from the National Football League, clearing the deck for more sports fans.
The last matchup between the Red Sox and Cards in 2004 represented the most-watched World Series since 1995. The heavy interest in the 2004 matchup came despite the Red Sox sweeping the series in four games.
With four Series games finishing among Nielsen's top 20 programs last week, Fox was the most-watched network in prime time, averaging 11.4 million viewers. CBS had 9.5 million viewers, NBC had 7.7 million, ABC had 6.8 million, Univision had 3.2 million, the CW had 1.7 million, Telemundo had 1.2 million and ION Television had 1.1 million.
ESPN was the week's most popular cable network, averaging 2.9 million viewers in prime time. The Disney Channel had 2.1 million, Fox News Channel had 1.95 million, AMC had 1.91 million and TBS had 1.7 million.
For the week of Oct. 21-27, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: "NCIS," CBS, 18.99 million; "The Big Bang Theory," CBS, 16.99 million; NFL Football: Green Bay at Minnesota, NBC, 16.89 million; World Series Game 4: Boston at St. Louis, Fox, 15.98 million; "World Series Game 4 Pregame," Fox, 15.38 million; "The OT," Fox, 15.24 million; "NCIS: Los Angeles," CBS, 14.92 million; World Series Game 1: St. Louis vs. Boston, Fox, 14.4 million; "The Voice" (Monday), NBC, 13.69 million; World Series Game 2: St. Louis vs. Boston, Fox, 13.43 million.
ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co. CBS is owned by CBS Corp. CW is a joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corp. Fox is owned by 21st Century Fox. NBC and Telemundo are owned by Comcast Corp. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks.