Cubs’ victory is most-watched game since 1991

NEW YORK (AP) — The Chicago Cubs’ curse-breaking victory over the Cleveland Indians in Game 7 reached 40 million viewers, making it the most-watched World Series game since 1991.

The Nielsen company said the World Series as a whole averaged 23.4 million viewers. That was the most popular World Series since another curse-breaking year, when the Boston Red Sox beat the St. Louis Cardinals in 2004 to end a long drought.

The victory early Thursday marked the team’s first World Series championship since 1908. The Cubs did it in thrilling fashion, topping the Indians 8-7 in 10 innings for their third straight victory.

The game peaked at just under 50 million viewers between 11:30 and 11:45 p.m. ET, an extraordinary number given that it was so late for viewers on the East Coast.

It was another epic Game 7, between the Minnesota Twins and Atlanta Braves in 1991, that reached 50.3 million viewers, Nielsen said.

Viewers generally become more interested in World Series the longer it goes. But the ratings for this year’s seventh game showed an explosion in interest: no other individual game reached more than 23.6 million viewers. The most recent World Series Game 7, between San Francisco and Kansas City in 2014, reached 25.4 million viewers.

Fox’s rivals sensed trouble ahead of time. NBC had announced Wednesday that it was pulling all of its original series from Wednesday night’s schedule and showing reruns instead. Things could have been worse for ABC, which televised the annual Country Music Association Awards. But its audience of 12.6 million viewers was only a million off from 2015.

Last year’s World Series between the Kansas City Royals and New York Mets, which lasted five games, averaged 14.7 million viewers per game.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.