On Wednesday night, television viewers awaiting new episodes of Law & Order: SVU and Criminal Minds tuned in only to find their favorite programming replaced by reruns of previously aired episodes. It didn’t take an NYPD detective or an FBI analyst to figure out what had happened. Across the major networks, shows were suspended in a concession to the seventh and decisive game of the World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians on Fox.
Because the sporting universe is fickle, these line-up postponements became 11th-hour decisions. After Cleveland failed to win the series at home on Tuesday night, executives were left to quickly put contingency programming plans into place. The Comedy Central stalwart South Park, for example, didn’t announce its schedule change until late Wednesday afternoon, which inspired many creative expressions of sadness among its faithful.
Networks not named Fox were right to fear that they’d lose viewers. Despite a late-game rain delay, an epic 290-minute runtime, and a 1 a.m. finish on the East Coast, Game Seven turned out to be the most watched game of baseball in 25 years with just over 40 million viewers. “That was the most since 50.3 million tuned in to see the Minnesota Twins defeat the Atlanta Braves in Game Seven of the 1991 World Series,” Tim Baysinger of Reuters reported. “Fox topped its own record of 39.1 million who watched the Arizona Diamondbacks cap a two-run ninth-inning rally over the New York Yankees in Game Seven of the 2001 World Series.”