In a time where ESPN's ratings are dropping across the board, Monday's Home Run Derby provided a bit of good news for ESPN. The Derby drew a 5.0 overnight rating, up 6% from last year's 4.7 overnight. It's also the highest rated Derby since 2009, when Prince Fielder topped Nelson Cruz in the finals at Busch Stadium in St Louis.
Locally, the Derby did best in Detroit, drawing a 9.8 rating for Fielder's attempt at a third Derby crown (he failed). Pittsburgh followed with a 9.6 thanks to the presence of Pedro Alvarez, while Baltimore drew a 9.0 due in large part to MLB home run leader Chris Davis' presence in the Derby. The host market for the game, New York, picked up a 7.9 rating, a jump of 19% from 2012. The only markets with competitors in the Derby that didn't rank in the top ten was Oakland (represented by eventual winner Yoenis Cespedes) and Denver (represented by Michael Cuddyer).
To top off a productive night for ESPN, the Celebrity Softball Game that followed the Derby drew a 1.9 rating, up 12% from 2012's 1.7 rating, and also the best rating for the game since 2010. Every little bit helps, I guess.
The lone bit of bad news from this positive ratings news comes for the fans. Perhaps the strong performance will spur ESPN to keep Chris Berman as the voice of the Derby, which he's been doing for years and driving fans crazy in the process. The Derby itself this year was one of the more entertaining ones in recent memory thanks to the unreal performance from Cespedes, but Berman was as grating as ever, and I honestly believe that a simple commentator switch could help ESPN's ratings even more.
UPDATE: The final rating for the Derby was a 4.1, flat from last year. The Derby also drew 6.7 million viewers, down 3% from last year and the least viewed Derby over the last three years.