Major League Baseball tallied strong results both for national TV networks and regional sports networks in the opening days of the shortened 2020 season, an analysis of Nielsen-measured TV data finds.
Average viewership for TV network games from Thursday July 23 through Sunday, July 26 was 1.23 million Nielsen-measured viewers. This was nearly double the results for the similar weekend period in July 2019, which tallied 680,000 viewers. National TV numbers can be affected by local TV blackouts, where regional sports networks air games.
Sixteen games were aired over the four-day period. ESPN had 7, while Fox had 3; TBS and FS1 both had 1, and MLB Network had 4. In addition, two games were aired on streamer ESPN+.
The baseball boost -- after a long delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic -- was also seen on regional sports networks (RSNs).
Michael Mulvihill, executive vp/head of strategy for Fox Sports, in a tweet on Wednesday said Nielsen ratings for baseball games were up 25% for 92 local telecasts so far -- averaging a 3.93 household rating compared to 2019’s 3.15 household rating.
The top ten national TV advertisers on baseball TV networks for the July 23-28 period, according to iSpot.tv -- Geico, a total of 87 airings of commercials ($1.5 million estimated spend); Bud Light, 70 airings ($1.3 million); T-Mobile, 85, ($1.1 million); Toyota, 47 ($980,052); and Hankook Tire, 53 ($966,053).
The next five were Allstate, with 71 airings ($903,647); Taco Bell, 118, ($892,580); Mastercard, 35 ($628,374); State Farm, 60 ($615,690) and Rocket Mortgage, 26 ($614,995).
The national "ratings" cited are hardly a sign of overwhelming public support for the truncated season return of baseball, Wayne. While the 1.2 million average commercial minute "audience" was up from an even smaller figure last year it's a tiny little viewership---especially as about a third of these average commercial minute "viewers" left the room when an average ad message appeared---per TVision. The local results are a far better indicator of fan interest as here they get to watch their hometown team in action.