The World Baseball Classic has brought forth some exciting games despite relative anonymity on MLB Network, but Team USA is at least bringing the viewers in spades to the network. 

Sunday night's elimination game between the USA and Canada averaged 760,000 viewers, the highest total for a non-postseason game in the network's history, up 26% from the previous high (a Yankees-Red Sox game last October). The final half hour of the game peaked with 1.25 million viewers. Team USA vs Mexico on Friday night drew 673,000 viewers, while USA vs Italy on Saturday averaged 576,000 viewers, both of which were among the top five most viewed non-playoff games in MLB Network history.

But despite that success (for MLB Network), the overall ratings are awful in comparison to the 2009 WBC that aired on the ESPN family of networks. In the last edition of the WBC, ESPN averaged a 1.1 rating and 1.6 million viewers for the entire Classic, topping out at a 1.9 rating and 2.8 million viewers for the US-Japan matchup in the semifinals. Even the US's early matchups with Venezuela and Canada drew 2.6 million and 1.9 million viewers respectively. 

So yes, while the WBC is having a huge impact on MLB Network's ratings, the overall WBC ratings are getting trashed in comparison to four years ago, and the placement of MLB Network on a premium cable tier isn't helping those numbers. However, the viewership levels beating the tar out of every other regular season game MLB Network has aired means the WBC is at least good for their business.


About Joe Lucia

I'm the managing editor of Awful Announcing and the news editor of The Comeback. I also made The Outside Corner a thing for six seasons.