David Price made his first start with the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday after getting traded by the Tampa Bay Rays at baseball’s trade deadline. With Price’s Tigers playing the Yankees in New York, you could imagine that there was a high level excitement among baseball fans. But the pure level of excitement may have been underestimated by everyone.
The game was aired live on MLB Network, and drew 575,000 viewers, the highest total for a regular season game on the network since a Yankees-Red Sox game on October 2, 2012, which had playoff implications for New York, trying to hold off the Orioles in the AL East. That audience of 575,000 viewers was good for the third-highest regular season audience for a regular season game on MLB Network since their launch in 2009.
Predictably, the local audiences for the game were also monstrous. In both Detroit and New York, the game drew the second-largest audience of the year for Fox Sports Detroit and YES Network. In Detroit, the game peaked at 275,000 viewers and averaged 217,000 households, second only to Opening Day. In New York, the only game to outdraw Price’s Tigers debut was another debut – Masahiro Tanaka’s first major league start on April 4th against the Blue Jays.
Needless to say, the blockbuster trade moved the needle. But the trade deadline frenzy wasn’t limited to just Price’s first start as a Tiger. MLB Network’s trade deadline coverage on July 31st resulted in an average of 184,000 viewers for the day, the most-watched regular season total day in the network’s history.
The programs immediately following the trade deadline special, MLB Now and Intentional Talk, also thrived. MLB Now drew a whopping 259,000 viewers, its most-watched episode ever. Intentional Talk picked up 177,000 viewers, its most-watched third quarter episode ever. Not bad for a program that’s been around since the beginning of the 2011 season.
All these numbers do is reinforce the belief that it’s not Major League Baseball that’s struggling – it’s just the MLB games on Fox and Fox Sports 1.