We’ve previously discussed strong MLB postseason numbers for game broadcasters Fox, Turner, ESPN, and MLB Network, but in MLBN’s case, it’s notable that the interest appears to have been well beyond just the two games they televised (Game 1 of the Red Sox-Astros ALDS, Game 2 of the Yankees-Indians ALDS).
In fact, MLBN notched their best-ever playoff viewership from a total day standpoint, and while those games were key factors (they played important roles in MLBN’s most-watched day ever and most-watched week ever), it looks like viewers tuned in to the network even when they weren’t carrying games.
Here are more of the higlights.:
- Best-ever Postseason viewership, averaging 90,000 viewers per day.
- October 2-8, 2017 was MLB Network’s most-watched week ever, with an average audience of 209,000 viewers (largely because of the two live Postseason games).
- Friday, October 6, 2017 was MLB Network’s most-watched day on record, averaging 813,000 viewers, mainly due to the Yankees-Indians ALDS Game 2.
The overall picture is, of course, boosted by carrying games (and carrying games that were popular), but MLBN appears to have done pretty well beyond that. It should be kept in mind that they offered a free preview on many distributors from Oct. 4-11, so that adds to the ratings, but MLBN also carried playoff games last year as well (Game 2 of the Cubs-Giants NLDS and Game 3 of the Nationals-Dodgers NLDS) and offered a free preview during that time. Thus, the year-over-year growth is notable, and it’s impressive that MLBN has managed to grow its postseason audience for seven straight years; it’s also impressive that they’re on track for their best year ever in primetime.
Some of that may be about lessened competition, with ESPN cutting Baseball Tonight to once a week and laying off many of their baseball-focused employees in April. That certainly made ESPN less of a destination for some baseball fans, and MLB Network may have been an appealing alternative. With further cuts reportedly coming to ESPN’s SportsCenter and other properties, more baseball fans could end up turning to MLB Network next season. It’s not necessarily a direct relationship, but it is notable that MLB Network appears to be gaining audience at a time when ESPN is placing less emphasis on baseball. We’ll see if that continues throughout this offseason and into 2018.