Reds third baseman Todd Frazier wasn’t the only big winner in Monday night’s Home Run Derby. The event earned a 4.9 overnight rating for ESPN, a 26 percent increase from last year’s Derby in Minnesota, which was delayed by rain and drew a 3.9 rating.
— Paulsen (@paulsen_smw) July 14, 2015
Whether it was curiosity about the Derby’s new rules and format — which promised to move proceedings along much faster and make it a more TV-friendly event — an understanding that Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park would yield plenty of home runs, or interest in the younger MLB players participating in the slugfest (despite the absence of marquee stars such as Giancarlo Stanton and Bryce Harper), a big audience tuned in.
As you might expect, the biggest market for the Home Run Derby was the home crowd in Cincinnati.
Top 5 markets for Home Run Derby: 1. Cincinnati19.6 2. St. Louis11.3 3. Kansas City10.4 4. Dayton9.7 5. Pittsburgh7.9
— Ken Fang (@fangsbites) July 14, 2015
According to ESPN, the 19.6 rating in Cincinnati is the largest local rating mark ever for a Home Run Derby telecast on the network. It probably shouldn’t be a surprise St. Louis and Kansas City generated the next highest ratings, considering how both of those markets and fanbases turned out in big numbers for All-Star voting. (Not to mention the success of the Cardinals and Royals, who currently hold the top two records in MLB.)
In addition, WatchESPN drew its largest-ever audience for the Derby, enjoying an increase of 57 percent from 2014.
With those numbers, MLB and ESPN may not want to consider changing a thing from this year’s Home Run Derby. The event moved briskly, with batters swinging away and often launching their next home run before the previous fly ball even reached the seats. That pace significantly reduced the down time that made the event a slog and gave Chris Berman less time to bloviate during the telecast.
But will we see as many home runs next year in San Diego’s spacious Petco Park? Perhaps that could influence interest in the Derby, but the quicker pace and thrill of a clock setting up buzzer-beater home runs promises to bring the same thrills to the event.