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TV Ratings: With Playoff Drama, ESPN Scores Best Wednesday Night Baseball Ratings Since '98

Web traffic, full season ratings also up for the cable sports network.

Red Sox vs. Orioles MLB Sept. 28th - H 2011
Rob Carr/Getty Images

On the last day of the regular season with the final playoff spot in both the American and National League at stake, ESPN’s Wednesday Night Baseball telecast had it’s best ratings since 1998.  

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The main telecast featuring the Boston Red Sox--trying to stave off a historic collapse--playing at the Baltimore Orioles recorded a 1.6 rating and 2.1 million viewers.  When that game finished at 12:05 a.m. ET, ESPN switched to the New York Yankees at the Tampa Bay Rays.  Viewers caught Tampa’s dramatic 12th inning victory that put the Rays in the playoffs.  The end of the Tampa-New York game drew a 2.8 rating and 3.8 million viewers.  ESPN2 showed the Philadelphia Phillies at the Atlanta Braves, which missed the playoffs with its extra-inning loss.  The game recorded a .9 rating and 1.1 million viewers.  ESPN’s baseball ratings exclude local markets (Boston for the Red Sox game, Atlanta for the Braves) where the team’s local broadcaster carries the game instead of ESPN.

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ESPN also saw a spike in web traffic, with Wednesday coming in as the highest trafficked day of the 2011 MLB regular season.  Baseball content recorded 2.7 unique visitors, a 56 percent increase over an average regular season day.

Wednesday night’s ratings capped a season that saw an overall increase in viewership for ESPN’s baseball telecasts.  Ratings were even for the season at 1.1 but viewers were up 5 percent from 1.38 million to 1.44 million million and total households rose 4 percent from 1.093 million to 1.125 million.