Pent Up Demand

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    • The 2020 MLB opener drew 232% more viewers than 2019.

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Baseball’s return is further proof there is a pent up demand for live sports. An average of 4 million viewers watched ESPN’s Opening Day broadcast of the New York Yankees against the Washington Nationals.

That represents a 232% increase from last year’s Opening Night broadcast and is the most watched regular season MLB game since 2011. The second Opening Night game, between the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers, drew an average of 2.7 million viewers, which made it ESPN’s most-watched late-night game ever.

Since sports started coming back in May, fans have tuned in at record clips:

— The WNBA season started Saturday by averaging 540,000 viewers on ABC for its opener between the Los Angeles Sparks and Phoenix Mercury, a 20% increase from 2019.

— Bundesliga’s return broadcast in May on FS1 saw a 725% rating increase compared to the last FS1 Bundesliga match prior to the shutdown.

— English Premier League afternoon matches on NBCSN were up 31%, averaging 312,000; NBC, however, has averaged 373,000 viewers for its broadcasts, down 17% from before the shutdown.

— The NWSL opened the Challenge Cup with 572,000 viewers on CBS, beating the previous NWSL record of 190,000 from a 2014 ESPN broadcast.

— UFC’s debut on Fight Island on July 11 drew 1.3 million pay-per-view buys, the most since 2018.

— MLS is Back Tournament’s opening game between Inter Miami and Orlando SC averaged 464,000 viewers on ESPN, the fifth highest most-viewed regular season broadcast in five seasons.

— NASCAR’s first broadcast on NBC this year over Independence Day weekend had a total audience delivery of 4.37 million viewers, a million more than the same weekend in 2019.