Yankees-Twins AL wild-card game hit a ratings home run

Big League Stew

After Tuesday night’s exciting AL wild-card game between the New York Yankees and the Minnesota Twins, we have a baseball life support update for you. Baseball is in fact not dying, but it’s alive and well, and there are numbers to prove it.

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That’s a big jump over the 2016 AL wild-card between the Baltimore Orioles and the Toronto Blue Jays. Though it’s understandable since the Yankees have a massive media market. But Twins fans in Minneapolis (where the team is located) were no slouches. They did their part in watching their team.

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For those many Twins fans who hoped that they’d get to watch their team finally, finally beat the Yankees, they were disappointed. But just six years ago, the Twins wouldn’t have even gotten a chance to play in the postseason. That’s how long the “new” wild-card format has been around, and that change has certainly paid off for ESPN.

There’s a little more to unpack here. Since they started, the wild-card play-in games have been on two networks: ESPN and TBS. In the first two years the play-in game existed, both the AL and NL games were carried by TBS. In 2014 they were split up for the first time: ESPN carried the NL wild-card game, and TBS carried the AL wild-card game. Ever since, the AL and NL games have switched networks from year to year.

The Yankees-Twins wild-card game was truly wild, and people tuned in to watch the action. (AP Photo)
The Yankees-Twins wild-card game was truly wild, and people tuned in to watch the action. (AP Photo)

In all, ESPN has broadcast a total of four wild-card games (two NL, two AL) out of a total of 11 (after Wednesday night, that total will climb to 12). And all four of those games are in the top five when it comes to wild-card game ratings. It’s an accomplishment, but it’s not surprising — ESPN is an all-sports network and already has two well-known weekly baseball broadcasts. TBS is essentially a comedy network now, showing some original programming but also a healthy dose of “Friends” and “Big Bang Theory” reruns. It’s not the first place people think of when they think baseball.

TBS will carry the NL wild-card game at 8 p.m. ET Wednesday, between the Colorado Rockies and the Arizona Diamondbacks. To get a taste of what you’ll see when these two NL West rivals face off, take a look at our NL wild-card preview. 

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Liz Roscher is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at lizroscher@yahoo.com or follow her on twitter! Follow @lizroscher

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