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World Series hits it out of park

Finale attracts 23 million in early estimates

The first Game 7 of the World Series since 2002 drew 25.4 million viewers to Fox during primetime Friday according to Nielsen, making it the most-watched baseball game in seven years.

Though it fell short of passing the first episode of “Two and a Half Men” with Ashton Kutcher (28.7 million) as the most-watched program on TV since the Academy Awards, the St. Louis Cardinals’ Game 7 triumph over the Texas Rangers became the highest-rated Friday broadcast in Fox history and drew the biggest audience on Friday for any network since the 2010 Winter Olympics opening cermony on NBC.

Audience peaked at 29.7 million at 11 p.m. Eastern., with viewers in St. Louis delivering an 89 share at that time.

The mass audience, on a night that Fox typically would have struggled to average 3 million viewers with “Kitchen Nightmares” and “Fringe,” completed a long-awaited World Series boon for Fox, which in the previous seven years had seen only one World Series go past five games. Thursday’s Game 6, a 10-9 extra-inning victory by St. Louis that was considered an instant classic, broke 21 million viewers and with the finale boosted the average for the entire Fall Classic to

16.6 million viewers, 19% better than 2010.

In demos, Fox got a big jump of 30% over the course of the World Series among males 12-17. Adults 18-49 grew by 23%.

The last time the World Series crossed 30 million viewers was with Game 7 of the 2002 World Series between Anaheim and San Francisco. The top-rated Fall Classic contest since that time was Game 4 of the 2004 World Series, in which Boston won its first title in nearly a century by sweeping St. Louis before 28.8 million.

Against the World Series on the East Coast, NBC’s series premiere of “Grimm” managed to pull a relatively promising 2.1 rating and 6 share according to preliminary Nielsens, with 6.5 million viewers overall. “Grimm” roughly doubled the audience of its lead-in, the season premiere of “Chuck” (1.0/3, 3.4 million) on its new night. On the West Coast, the World Series was still wrapping up when “Chuck” aired and was over by the time “Grimm” bowed.

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