MLB Network is seven and a half years old and in some ways still finding its way in a world that’s increasingly unkind to cable sports networks.
According to MLB Network, this postseason was the channel’s most watched ever, in terms of both primetime viewerships (219,000 viewers on average) and total day viewership (87,000). Those figures are up 298 percent and 21 percent, respectively, from 2015.
This was the fifth straight year MLB Network had exclusive rights to two division series games, and while those games always draw a large audience, this year’s broadcasts blew away all previous ones. The difference was, of course, the Chicago Cubs.
Per Sports Media Watch, Game 2 of the NLDS between the Cubs and Giants drew 4.7 million viewers to MLB Network, more than twice as many as watched the comparable division-series games on MLB Network last season. The game became easily the most watched program in the station’s relatively brief history, making up for so-so ratings on Nationals-Dodgers two days later.
Not only did interest in the Cubs result in huge viewership for the NLDS game featuring them, but it also spurred stronger-than-usual general interest in baseball’s postseason, which resulted in big ratings for MLB Network’s studio shows as well.
Naturally, MLB Network recorded its best overall October viewership ever, with a primetime audience 176 percent higher than last October.
Of course, with the Cubs’ drought over, it’ll be a while before we see another baseball story captivate the country like Chicago’s playoff run did. That means all the records MLB Network set this fall will likely stand for a while.