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Friday, July 19, 2024
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College World Series: Record Crowds and TV Viewership Anticipated

  • Last year, nearly 400,000 fans attended games in Omaha.
  • ESPN continues to see a viewership spike around NCAA baseball.
General view of the stadium during the game between the LSU Tigers and the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Charles Schwab Field Omaha. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

The College World Series is underway in Omaha, with the popular postseason event eyeing more records around both game attendance and TV viewership.

Last year, the CWS drew its highest-ever total attendance of 392,946. That represented an average of 24,559 fans per game across the 16 contests. It was the third consecutive year the CWS broke its previous spectator record.

This year, the eight-team bracket has four schools each from the ACC and SEC, whose fan bases support their baseball teams as well as, if not better, than any others in the country. All games take place at the 24,000-seat Charles Schwab Field, the $130 million ballpark that opened in 2011. 

All Eyes on Omaha

College World Series media rights are tied to ESPN through 2032, thanks to the network’s recent eight-year, $920 million extension for NCAA championships. Last year’s CWS was the most-watched ever on ESPN, with an average audience of 1.65 million viewers. That figure was up 48% from ’22.

The final eight teams enter with plenty of momentum already. Super Regional games averaged 501,000 viewers on ESPN, representing the most-watched round since 2009 and up 22% from last season. The championship series is set to get a bigger platform, too, with one of the potential three games moving from ESPN to network TV on ABC.

Sticking to Their Roots

During a recent appearance on Front Office Sports Today, College World Series executive director Amy Hornocker said that even though getting to Omaha is a “bucket list item for a lot of people,” the annual event still has roughly 3,000 season-ticket holders from all but four states.

The Nebraska city has hosted the CWS since 1950 and is under contract with the NCAA to do so until 2036. With its growing popularity, though, other cities may try to poach the championship if the NCAA were to consider creating a traveling road show like the Final Four. “I’d like to think that even when we get close to the contract that, if there’s other cities involved, that we have a fair shot,” Hornocker said.

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