Monday was a historic day because we had not one, but two MLB division tiebreaker games. ESPN aired the two games back to back, and reaped the benefits by drawing an average 2.1 overnight rating for the two games. For the Milwaukee-Chicago Central Division tiebreaker, ESPN had a 1.9 rating, while the late afternoon Colorado-L.A. Dodgers West Division tiebreaker drew a 2.3 rating.
ESPN claimed the overnights were the highest numbers for an MLB regular season game in 20 years, dating back to 1998. It’s important to note that these games were essentially playoff games, but are officially regular season games, so comparisons to regular season games aren’t perfect.
Additionally, the games drew excellent ratings in the local markets. Rockies-Dodgers drew record regular season ratings for ESPN in both Denver (9.0) and Los Angeles (6.9), despite airing in the middle of a Monday afternoon in both markets.
For the Brewers-Cubs contest, ESPN saw a record regular season number of 13.5 in Milwaukee. In Chicago, the game drew an 8.3 rating, the highest regular season number on ESPN for Chicago since the Cubs’ World Series banner-raising ceremony to start off the 2017 season.
The good numbers for afternoon games give MLB some good momentum heading into the 2018 MLB Postseason. Both TBS and FS1 will have afternoon games in the League Division Series round, so that interest in the two Tiebreaker games could lead to decent ratings, especially if the Cubs beat the Rockies on Tuesday night in the NL Wild Card game.
Monday was a particularly big day for ESPN, as it had the two MLB tiebreaker games leading into Monday Night Football. Fortunately for the Worldwide Leader, both games did not run too far over, and MNF was able to start on time.
The Brewers-Cubs game ended past 4 p.m. ET, but the West Division tiebreaker game began on ESPN2 and was then moved to the Mothership at 4:15 p.m. with the game in the bottom of the first inning.
Rockies-Dodgers ended about 7:30 p.m., well into Monday Night Countdown. That broadcast began on ESPN2, and fans did not miss any of the Chiefs-Broncos game.