NEW YORK -- An estimated 23.5 million people watched the San Francisco Giants' 3-2 win over the Kansas City Royals in Game 7, enabling the matchup to escape the distinction of least-watched World Series.
The Nielsen company said Thursday that more people watched the previous night's contest than any other World Series game since the 2011 Game 7 between St. Louis and Texas.
It was 10 million more people than tuned in to any of the previous six games between the Giants and the Royals. Nielsen said the peak average audience came during the last inning, when 27.8 million people saw MVP Madison Bumgarner record the last out.
The Series overall averaged 13.8 million viewers, second only to the Giants' four-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers in 2012 as the series with the smallest audience.
The sixth game had only 13.4 million viewers, no doubt dragged down by an early blowout. But Game 7 was filled with drama, as the Giants clung to their one-run lead behind the masterful performance of their ace in a relief role.
In Kansas City, an estimated 77 percent of the television sets in use Wednesday night had the game on, broadcast by Fox. It was the most popular sports event on TV since the Sochi Olympics in February.
Still, it was a record low audience for a World Series Game 7, baseball's ultimate game. Both Game 7's during the 2000s had more than 30 million viewers. When the Minnesota Twins beat the Atlanta Braves in 1991, the audience was 50.3 million people.
Last year, 14.9 million people watched the Boston Red Sox clinch its Series against St. Louis. But it was in Game 6, not a winner-take-all contest.