Everyone has a different bar for success, and there are various takeaways when looking at the viewership for MLB’s Wild Card games this week. But Wednesday’s full slate of eight games, while an improvement over what we saw on Tuesday, still have not lit the world on fire.
The lone primetime game on the night, the Yankees-Indians marathon, drew 2.535 million viewers on ESPN. That’s down from 2.593 million viewers for Game 1. However, the numbers grow less impressive from there.
The day’s first game was the Reds-Braves extra innings affair on ESPN. That drew 1.46 million viewers. Because of the long overrun, half of the White Sox-A’s game aired on ESPNEWS (which is not rated. The hour and a half that did air on ESPN drew 1.219 million viewers. Game 1 on ESPN drew 953,000 viewers.
An hour after the start of the Reds-Braves game, Astros-Twins on ESPN2 drew 731,000 viewers. The first game of that series aired on ABC, and viewership data is (still) not available. Additionally, the Marlins-Cubs game that aired on ABC also doesn’t immediately have viewership information available.
ESPN2 aired a pair of other games following Astros-Twins. Cardinals-Padres drew 1.232 million viewers, and Brewers-Dodgers drew 1.09 million viewers (with the long game in Cleveland bumping the matchup from ESPN for all but the final 13 minutes).
TBS also had a Wild Card game, and judging by the viewership for that one, most of you didn’t care. Game 2 of Blue Jays-Rays drew just 345,000 viewers, down from 803,000 viewers for Game 1.
Here’s a fancy chart with the Wild Card viewership data through Wednesday, minus the two ABC games and the games that took place on Friday. So, ten games worth of available data.
I plan on another post later Friday with the viewership from Thursday’s slate of four games.
Through the ten games we have data for, four of those drew under a million viewers (including both of the TBS games). Turner’s numbers have to be considered incredibly disappointed, especially when you consider the company just announced a new $3.7 *billion* TV deal with MLB. The company is paying that much money, and can’t even draw a million viewers for one game in their one (arguably the least sexy) Wild Card series?
As for the numbers on ESPN’s networks, the rub will be that the viewership for all of the day games is better than nearly anything else the network could air during daytime hours. Last Wednesday, the network aired SportsCenter at noon, and it drew 318,000 viewers – more than a million less than the Reds-Braves playoff game. Similarly, the ESPN2 numbers are impressive, given the network’s regular daily programming. A week ago on Wednesday, nothing that aired on ESPN2 topped 130,000 viewers. Looking through the lens of “playoff games!,” the numbers are awful. But looking through the lens of “daytime content,” it’s a walkoff victory.