Nail-biter games between teams from the nation’s largest markets have produced a strong ratings start to the postseason for Fox’s coverage of Major League Baseball.
Wednesday night’s four-hour-plus contest between the Anaheim Angels and New York Yankees averaged 9.6 million viewers, according to Nielsen. That’s similar to the 9.5 million who tuned in for the same matchup Tuesday on Fox, making the two games the most-watched opening duo of the baseball playoffs in three years.
Compared to last year, Fox’s two nights of baseball are up 21% in adults 18-49 (3.5 vs. 2.9) and 19% in overall audience (9.6 million vs. 8.1m).
Wednesday’s game cleaned up in all adult male demos, winning the night for Fox in men 18-34 (4.8/16), 18-49 (5.2/16) and 25-54 (5.9/17) — the best scores for an early-round non-Game 5 baseball playoff game since 1999.
Most encouraging for Fox and baseball was the year-to-year growth among men 18-34, with Wednesday’s 4.8 rating a whopping 45% higher than the 3.3 for an Athletics-Yankees early-round game on a Wednesday last year.
Not surprisingly, Wednesday’s game rated highest in New York (15.0/24 in metered-market overnights) and the Los Angeles-Orange County market (14.8/25).
Fox, which aired a National League game on Thursday night, resumes its primetime coverage Saturday with Game 4 of the Yankees-Angels series. Cablers ESPN2, ABC Family and FX also are skedded to air early-round playoff games this weekend.