With MLB's Opening Day in the books and the grind of a 162 game season underway, there's both good and bad news related to the first couple days of games on ESPN.
The Rangers-Astros opener on Sunday night drew a 1.5 overnight, down 17% from both 2011 (Giants-Dodgers) and 2012 (Marlins-Cardinals), which both drew a 1.8. The 2.3 million viewers the game drew was flat with 2011 (2.3 million viewers) and nearly flat with 2012 (2.4 mllion viewers). Oddly, both of those games came on weeknights, compared to the Sunday night matchup this year, which isn't a good sign for MLB. However, the lack of the defending World Champion in the game likely also played a huge role in the decline, and the relatively non-descript offseasons that the Rangers and (especially) the Astros had probably didn't help matters at all.
Monday was a different story though, as the four games aired by ESPN averaged a 0.7 and 961,000 viewers, up 45% in ratings from a year ago and 51% in viewership from four games (though over a two game period) last year. The 1 PM Red Sox-Yankees game led the way with a 0.8 overnight and 1.1 million viewers, up 72% in ratings and 87% in viewership from a Red Sox-Tigers matchup from 2012. The 4 PM Giants-Dodgers game picked up a 0.7 and 963,000 viewers, up 69% in ratings and 68% in viewership from Marlins-Reds last year.
ESPN2 aired the Phillies and Braves at 7 PM, and that game had a 0.7 and 1.0 million viewers, up 49% in ratings and 48% in viewership from Giants-Diamondbacks last year. The Cardinals-Diamondbacks game that closed the night out was essentially flat from 2012's Royals-Angels game.
Locally, some of Monday's games did huge numbers. The Phillies-Braves matchup drew an 11.5 rating on WPHL in Philadelphia, the highest-rated Phillies Opening Day since 1996. In Atlanta, Fox Sports South drew an 8.9 for the game, the highest rated Opening Day ever on FSS and the highest locally-rated Braves game since 2000. The Tigers' opener with the Twins drew a non-simulcast Opening Day record 11.1 on Fox Sports Detroit. The Nationals (4.8) and White Sox (3.4) each set Opening Day ratings records on MASN and CSN Chicago, respectively. But the real local winner of the day was the Cincinnati Reds and Fox Sports Ohio, which drew a monstrous 23.5 rating for their opener with the Angels, the highest ever for a Reds Opening Day.