At the halfway point of the 2023 MLB season, the league’s national media partners are in pretty good shape.
After a disappointing report at the start of June, viewership has turned a corner following another month of action. Per the Sports Business Journal, MLB’s viewership at midseason is up on TBS, virtually flat on ESPN, and up on the combination of Fox and FS1.
In June, nationally televised games were up on TBS, down on ESPN, and down on both Fox and FS1.
Trends have changed in the month since.
ESPN is averaging 1.513 million viewers per game, up a negligible amount from a year ago (1.511 million viewers). TBS has an average of 338,000 viewers for its package of Tuesday games, up a wild 41% from last year.
ESPN’s success with Sunday Night Baseball this year hasn’t translated to the ESPN2 KayRod Cast. The four broadcasts so far this year are averaging just 131,000 viewers, a 27% drop from last season. Four editions of the KayRod Cast remain this season, beginning with Mets-Red Sox on July 23rd and continuing with three airings in August that don’t have announced matchups quite yet.
Fox is a more complicated story. The company’s combined package of games on Fox and FS1 is averaging 889,000 viewers, up 17% from last season. However, that increase is almost solely driven by more games earlier in the season on the Fox broadcast network. In 2022, Fox itself didn’t air an MLB game until Memorial Day weekend. This year, Fox has aired far more games earlier in the season, including seven before Memorial Day weekend. By the end of the season, those changes should balance themselves out.
FS1 is averaging only 267,000 viewers, down 14% from last season’s midseason average.
Data wasn’t available for MLB’s streaming partners, Apple TV+ and Peacock.
Going into the second half, the league is poised for a strong finish to the season. Five of the six divisional races (sorry, non-Braves fans in the NL East) are within three games, and only five teams are ten or more games out of a playoff spot. There is plenty to play for in the second half, and MLB is hoping fans keep tuning in at the national level.