The 2021 MLB Wild Card games were some of the most-watched ever. ESPN averaged 7.69 million English-language TV viewers (not counting streaming or ESPN Deportes) for their coverage of the AL Wild Card Game (Yankees-Red Sox) Tuesday, the highest they had ever reached for a Wild Card Game, and Turner Sports pulled in their second-highest audience ever for a Wild Card Game Wednesday with their coverage of the NL Wild Card Game (Cardinals-Dodgers). Here’s more from the WarnerMedia release on that:
TBS’s exclusive coverage of last night’s thrilling 2021 National League Wild Card presented by Hankook Tire – the St. Louis Cardinals vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (8 p.m.-12:38 a.m. ET) – is the second most-watched Wild Card telecast in the network’s history, averaging 6.7 million viewers, a 41% increase over the 2019 NL Wild Card on TBS.
The live game telecast peaked with an average of 7.4 million total viewers from 10-10:15 p.m. ET and delivered significant audience growth across all platforms, including a record-setting streaming audience for MLB on TBS. The Dodgers’ dramatic walk-off victory led the network to win the night across all of cable television, based on metered market delivery. Cardinals/Dodgers was the No. 1 program of the night across all of TV for People 18-34, 18-49 and 25-54.
…Turner Sports’ TV Everywhere platforms generated a Wild Card record for streaming consumption on its digital platforms, including an increase of 469% in minutes streamed vs. 2019 NL Wild Card coverage.
It’s impressive that the audience here stayed large despite the game’s late finish. But it’s certainly helpful that this was a tight game that wasn’t decided until the bottom of the ninth (on Chris Taylor’s walk-off home run). And while the audience here wasn’t at the level of the previous TBS record (8.3 million for the Cubs and Pirates in 2015), it’s still a remarkable audience, especially in comparison to the last few years; the last Wild Card Games to average more than six million viewers were in 2018, when both the AL and NL games hit that mark. (See our post on ESPN’s numbers for a fuller discussion of the last several years of Wild Card Game ratings.)
Next up for TBS are two Division Series matchups: the Braves against the Brewers, and the Dodgers against the Giants. Those series both get underway Friday, beginning at 4:37 p.m. and 9:37 p.m. Eastern respectively.
[WarnerMedia; photo from Robert Hanashiro/USA Today Sports]