Cubs, Braves hit ratings home run

Matchup averaged 7.43 mil total viewers on ESPN

NEW YORK — Yankees, Shmankees. The Major League teams smacking Nielsen homeruns in the first round of the postseason baseball playoffs are the Atlanta Braves and the Chicago Cubs.

The Cubs-Braves matchup did it again Wednesday night on ESPN, averaging 7.43 million total viewers, the highest-rated divisional series game in the history of cable.

On Tuesday, the first Cubs-Braves game had Fox Network execs high-fiving over the 10.86 million viewers who tuned in, elevating the contest into the most-watched divisional series game ever.

The best-of-five series is tied 1-1, with ESPN getting tonight’s game from Chicago and Fox doing the honors Saturday afternoon, also from Chicago. Fox will also get the fifth game, if necessary, on Sunday night, from Atlanta.

The Nielsens for the first two nights made the decision to feature the Cubs-Braves series in primetime look like a good one. In recent years, the New York Yankees have generally been the featured team in primetime; they were the Fox game on Thursday night.

Also on Wednesday, ESPN’s coverage of the marathon contest between the Boston Red Sox and Oakland Athletics averaged 4.34 million viewers. Game didn’t wrap until 2:47 a.m. ET Thursday.

(Rick Kissell in Hollywood contributed to this report.)

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