Baseball fans west of the Mississippi River may want to skip this post, as it discusses probably one of their least favorite subjects: the baseball media's fascination with the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.
Though many may be unhappy with MLB's over-covering of the two clubs, damned if this weekend's ratings performance didn't justify it. Both Saturday's Fox regional window (in which 70 percent of the nation saw New York-Boston) and ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball drew season highs for the sport's biggest rivalry. Not only that, but both networks posted double digits gains over comparable coverage last year.
Fox's game, which started a bit late due to weather and also featured regional broadcasts (Pittsburgh-Cincinnati and Atlanta-CHI White Sox) drew a 2.5 rating, tying the network's season high. The net was up 39 percent over last year (regional coverage that week included Phillies-Giants, Rangers-Angels and Tigers-White Sox). Though Yankees-Red Sox was a big part of that, the network was also abetted by solid ratings performances in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Atlanta for their hometown teams.
On Sunday, Yankees-Red Sox took center stage, with an extra inning game that nearly cracked 1 a.m. ET. The game drew a 2.1 overnight rating, up 50 percent from the comparable game last year, which was Rangers-Angels. Boston drew a 9.9 rating for the game, the highest-rated ESPN telecast in the market since 2011. Aside from Boston, Providence, Hartford, Ft. Myers, New York, Tampa and Buffalo were some of the most popular markets for the game.
So say what you will about Yanks-Sox, but the rivalry remains a vital element towards keeping the sport in the national conversation. It certainly justified the coverage this weekend, and likely will continue to should both teams stay in a pennant race.