ESPN’s Coverage of Inaugural MLB Wild Card Series Reached 43,764,000 Fans in U.S.


ESPN’s Coverage of Inaugural MLB Wild Card Series Reached 43,764,000 Fans in U.S.

ESPN’s coverage of last week’s inaugural Major League Baseball Wild Card Series, which included 16 exclusive telecasts across ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC, reached 43,764,000 fans in the U.S., according to Nielsen. The reach is up from 15,061,000 fans for last year’s single ESPN Wild Card Game telecast and up from 21,600,000 for both 2019 MLB Wild Card Game telecasts combined.

Reach indicates the number of fans who watched a portion of the coverage on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC between Tuesday, September 29 and Friday, October 2.

Despite a jam-packed television landscape last week, which included the first Presidential Debate, NFL and college football, and the NBA Finals, fans watched 6.2 billion minutes of MLB Wild Card Series coverage on ESPN television platforms, up from 1.9 billion total for the 2019 Wild Card round.

Burke Magnus, ESPN executive vice president, programming:

“The first-ever expanded MLB Wild Card Series proved to be a thrilling week for sports fans and we’re proud that our coverage reached more people in this round than ever before. Our team showed tremendous can-do spirit as we delivered 16 games in four days in innovative fashion amidst unprecedented circumstances. It was another great chapter in our relationship with Major League Baseball.”

Overall, ESPN platforms averaged 1,836,000 viewers across its 16 game telecasts. Despite head-to-head competition from the first Presidential debate, the most-watched game of the week was Game 1 between the New York Yankees and the Cleveland Indians on September 29, drawing an average of 2,642,000 viewers.

Additional highlights:

  • On Thursday, October 1, ESPN maintained an average viewership of at least 1,000,000 viewers from 12:30 p.m. ET through 1 a.m. – a rarity besides select college football Saturdays.
  • Also on Thursday, October 1, ESPN maintained an average audience of more than 2,000,000 viewers from 5:45 p.m. through 11:30 p.m.
  • MLB Wild Card Series game telecasts on ESPN-only averaged 2,012,000 viewers throughout the week.


The 2020 MLB Wild Card Series also saw the return of postseason baseball to ABC for the first time in 25 years (since 1995). ABC’s three MLB afternoon broadcasts averaged nearly two million viewers (1,986,000). Either ABC or ESPN won the afternoon in the key demographics, including P18-49 and P25-54, throughout the week. digital success

The MLB Wild Card Series also helped deliver its largest digital audience of 2020. The site generated more than 60,000,000 page views of MLB content across Wednesday, September 30 and Thursday, October 1 combined, and a total of 97,600,000 page views throughout the four-day event.

For more information, including individual game viewership, please reach out to a member of ESPN’s Communications department.



Ben Cafardo

I lead communications strategy and execution for ESPN’s NBA, MLB, FIBA and Little League World Series properties. I’m also a proud consumer of all things ESPN.
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