MLB at Field of Dreams Game Draws Best Regular-Season Rating Since 2005

It may have been corny as all hell, literally, but the game was a home run for Fox

Fans watch the Chicago White Sox play the New York Yankees at Field of Dreams in Iowa.

By Evan Bleier

It may have been corny as all hell, literally, but the MLB at Field of Dreams game was a home run with hardball heads and drew the largest viewing audience for a regular-season baseball game in more than 15 years.

Broadcast on Fox and held in Dyersville alongside the site where the 1989 film Field of Dreams was filmed, MLB’s first-ever game in the state of Iowa averaged a 3.2 rating and 5.87 million viewers on Fox (5.9 million including Fox Deportes). Peaking with 6.09 million from 8:45-9 p.m. ET, the game drew the largest regular-season baseball audience on any network since 2005, according to Sports Media Watch. Previously, the year’s best baseball broadcast was a June game on Fox between the Yankees and Red Sox that drew an average of 2.68 million viewers.

For comparison, the Field of Dreams outdrew all but one NBA regular-season game last season (Mavericks-Lakers on Christmas) and all but two playoff games prior to the NBA Finals (Bucks-Nets Game 7 and Hawks-Sixers Game 7). But, the game was unable to outdraw the NFL preseason-opening Hall of Fame Game between the Cowboys and Steelers, which also aired on Fox and faced the Summer Olympics but was still able to draw an average audience of 7.3 million.

“It was indeed the highest-rated regular-season baseball game in 16 years,” per ProFootballTalk. “But when that new high-water mark still falls 1.4 million viewers behind a football game replete with backups, it demonstrates that, when it comes to football, if you build it, a lot more people will come.”

The pregame interest and coverage of the event was impressive enough to MLB commissioner Rob Manfred that he confirmed the Field of Dreams game will be held again in August of 2022. “I think the reception that this event has received has been so positive that we will be back,” Manfred said. “I think it’s pretty clear we’re going to be back next year and we’ll have to talk about it after that. But it’s just been so successful that it’s hard not to take the opportunity to do it again.” 

However, Fox Sports sources are “taking a cautious approach in determining if the game should be an annual event,” according to The Sports Business Journal.

TV ratings will be important, but an even more important component will be gauging sponsor interest — which was quite strong this time around. In 2022 and beyond, that may not be the case. Kevin Costner won’t like it, but it is what it is.