2018 NCAA Division I Baseball Championship Leads the Way in Viewership with Multi-Year Highs in Every Round

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2018 NCAA Division I Baseball Championship Leads the Way in Viewership with Multi-Year Highs in Every Round

  • CWS Finals: Most-Viewed Three-Game Series Since 2014; Game Two Stunner Boasts More Than 2 Million Viewers
  • ESPN’s NCAA Division I Baseball Championship Viewership Up 15% from 2017
  • Portland Market Sees Spike in Local Ratings as Oregon State Takes Third CWS Title

The 2018 NCAA Division I Baseball Championship is the most-watched baseball postseason since 2012, boasting multi-year viewership highs throughout the Road to Omaha. The NCAA Regionals, Super Regionals, College World Series and College World Series Finals knocked it out of the park, with each round seeing an increase in viewership across the board from a record-breaking 2017 postseason.

Over the month of June, ESPN telecasts averaged a total live audience of 550,809 viewers, with the College World Series averaging 1,134,344 viewers, up 4% from 2017. The three-game CWS Finals (June 26-28), which saw the Oregon State Beavers come back to defeat the Arkansas Razorbacks, averaged a total live audience of 1.9 million viewers, the most-watched three-game series since 2014.

Game One is Most-Watched CWS Finals Opener since 2014
The opening game of the best-of-three College World Series Finals earned a total live audience of 1,807,381 viewers, the best viewership for a Finals opener since 2014, based on Nielsen reporting numbers. Viewership of the CWS Finals opener is up 2% year-over-year.

More Than 2 Million Viewers Watched Wild Game Two 
The CWS Finals audience surpassed more than two million viewers for game 2, as the contest averaged a total live audience of 2,160,458 viewers, the most-watched second game in the best-of-three format since 2011. The TV-only audience peaked at 3.1 million viewers (10:45 p.m. – 11 p.m.) as Oregon State began to rally in the top of the 9th to force a decisive Game 3. 2018’s Game 2 is up 8% over last year’s championship-clinching Game 2, where Florida defeated conference foe LSU.

Decisive Game Three Sees Spike from Previous Three-Game Series in 2016
The winner-take-all Game 3 averaged 1.8 million viewers, giving the three-game series an average of 1.9 million viewers, ranking as the highest CWS Finals since 2014.

Viewership Vaults During Regionals and Super Regionals
ESPN’s extensive coverage of the 2018 NCAA Division I Baseball Championship was one of the most-watched on record. The 2018 Super Regionals became the most-watched round-of-16 since the network began covering every game from the round nearly 10 seasons ago and delivered the most-watched Super Regional game in nearly the same time period.

The eight, best-of-three series (23 games) which determined the College World Series field, averaged 449,000 viewers a game, not only setting a new viewership record, but also increasing viewership 40% from the same round a year ago. ESPN’s coverage of all rounds of the NCAA Division I Baseball Championship was up 34% from 2017 heading into the College World Series.

Portland Market Registers Record Ratings
The Portland market experienced record ratings throughout the College World Series, with each Finals game registering its highest local ratings in more than a decade.

  • Game 1 averaged a 7.5 rating in Portland, ranking as the highest local rating in the market for Game 1 of the CWS since 2007
  • Game 2 averaged a 7.7 local rating, the second-highest rating in the market for a CWS Finals Game 2 on record
  • Game 3 averaged a 9.1 local rating, the highest rating in the market for a CWS Finals Game 3 on record

Editor’s note: The original press release stated that the 2018 CWS Finals was the most-watched three-game series since 2009. In fact, it was the most-watched three-game series since 2014. The release was updated with this information at 11:10 a.m. ET on Friday, July 6. 

Amanda Brooks

Amanda is the Communications Manager for ESPN’s College Networks and espnW, and oversees publicity for college baseball, gymnastics and track & field across all ESPN networks. Amanda is a proud alum of Hendrix College in Conway, Ark., and earned her master's in ethics from Vanderbilt University. A native of Kent, Ohio, she is a die-hard Cleveland Indians fan.
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