While MLB struggles internally with issues stemming from the coronavirus, its broadcast partners are experiencing a baseball renaissance.
Despite the hurdles presented in the schedule, MLB has drawn well on TV. Opening weekend had more than twice the number of viewers as 2019 and ESPN’s first 12 broadcasts averaged 1.16 million viewers, a 34% increase from 2019. The network’s Opening Night game drew an average of 4 million viewers.
Fox Sports — which sold 90% of its ad inventory before the season — also had a double-digit ratings increase. Regional sports networks experienced a 31% viewership increase during opening weekend over last year and 25 markets are up 18%.
The ratings boom has been a boon for networks starved of advertising revenue without live sports. In 2019, the regular MLB season generated $196.3 million in ad revenue for national and local networks.
Teams that have gained nearly 50% or more in viewership:
— Houston Astros
— Los Angeles Dodgers
— Chicago White Sox
— Texas Rangers
— Detroit Tigers
— Minnesota Twins
— Tampa Bay Rays
— San Francisco Giants