ESPN’s coverage of the 2022 MLB Wild Card playoff round was a smashing success by any standard.

Per a release from the company, the nine games averaged 2.798 million viewers over ESPN, ESPN2, and ABC. For context, that’s higher than three of the four Division Series matchups last year, and *way* up from the 2020 Wild Card round, the first with more than two games.

Unsurprisingly, the Padres-Mets series was the largest draw. It averaged 3.683 million viewers, with all three games airing in primetime on ESPN. Phillies-Cardinals was next, averaging 2.820 million viewers for Game 1 on ABC and Game 2 on ESPN2. Despite the presence of a Canadian team, Mariners-Blue Jays averaged 2.231 million viewers for a pair of ESPN games. Rays-Guardians brought up the rear, averaging 2.018 million viewers for one game on ESPN and one on ESPN2.

Per day, viewership increased as the weekend went along. Friday’s four games averaged 2.565 million viewers, while Saturday’s four averaged 2.741 million going head to head with college football all day. Up against Sunday Night Football, the one Sunday game averaged 3.961 million viewers, the most-watched game of the weekend.

College football ran the town on Saturday, as it usually does in the fall, but baseball held its own. That Saturday average of 2.741 million was beaten by only six college football games over the weekend, five of which aired on broadcast TV. Head to head, Mariners-Jays finished third of five live games in the 3:30 PM/4 PM window, while the Padres-Mets game finished second in primetime, with Phillies-Cardinals finishing fourth (a hair behind BYU-Notre Dame). Both games beat primetime college football on ABC and Fox.

Overall, this is a more than encouraging start for baseball. However, with many Division Series games this week airing in the afternoon in the middle of the week, it wouldn’t be a surprise if viewership for those games was a disappointment in comparison to the Wild Card round.


About Joe Lucia

I hate your favorite team. I also sort of hate most of my favorite teams.