Baseball coverage gives net best week ever

TBS slugged a grand-slam game-winner with its first-ever carriage of postseason baseball, scoring the best week ever in its 31-year history.

The network’s exclusive coverage of baseball’s divisional series catapulted TBS into an average total-viewer primetime audience of 5.3 million people, which was almost double the viewership for second-place ESPN (an average of 2.8 million) among ad-supported cable networks for the week of Oct. 1 to 7.

Focusing on primetime games, and contests that spilled over into other dayparts, TBS’ coverage of the division series ended up with 26% more total viewers than last year’s comparable coverage, shared by ESPN and the Fox network. Similarly, TBS harvested substantial double-digit gains among people 18 to 34 and 18 to 49 for this October’s games compared with those of last year.

“We could not be happier with the ratings for our coverage of the MLB division series,” said David Levy, president of Turner Sports. TBS ponied up $1.05 billion for the rights to these postseason games (which include a sharing of the League Championship Series with Fox) and some Sunday regular-season games, all part of a seven-year deal that runs through 2013 (an average of $150 million a year).

Six of the seven highest-rated shows for the week in ad-supported cable were baseball games on TBS, led by the 8.46 million viewers who watched the third game in the Yankees-Indians series. (ESPN chalked up the most-viewed show of the week, 11.8 million for the Oct. 1 NFL game between the Patriots and Bengals.)

TBS begins its coverage of the National League Championship Series on Thursday between the Colorado Rockies and the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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