Judge home run pursuit lifts FOX to MLB season-high

The Aaron Judge home run chase delivered the largest audience of the Major League Baseball season on FOX Thursday night.

Regional Major League Baseball on FOX featuring Red Sox-Yankees in most markets averaged a 1.9 rating and 3.23 million viewers Thursday night, the highest rated and most-watched game of the regular season. The previous highs were a 1.7 and 3.10 million for the Cubs-Reds “Field of Dreams” game last month. Yankees OF Aaron Judge entered Thursday’s game with 60 home runs, one shy of the all-time American League record.

Eight of the ten most-watched MLB windows this season have featured the Yankees, with six of those eight pitting New York against their Boston rivals.

In addition to the season-high, Thursday’s telecast delivered the largest September baseball audience on any network since the 2014 Royals-A’s Wild Card game (5.2M) and the largest regular season audience opposite the NFL since at least the late 2000s. Figures for the competing Steelers-Browns Thursday Night Football game on Amazon Prime are unlikely to be available until next week.

New York led all markets Thursday night with a 6.9 rating and 17 share, followed close behind by Hartford-New Haven at a 6.6/16. Philadelphia (5.3/12), Atlanta (4.8/13) and Boston (4.4/11) rounded out the top five, with Boston secondary market Providence, RI, just outside at a 4.3/10.

As one would expect, the Judge home run chase has also been a strong draw in New York. Locally, Wednesday’s Pirates-Yankees game averaged 600,000 viewers on YES Network — the largest audience for a Yankee game on the RSN since 2018, excluding “Subway Series” games against the crosstown Mets. It surpassed the previous four-year high set a night earlier by the same matchup at 539,000 viewers. YES is now averaging 352,000 for Yankees games this season, up 23% from last year and on pace to rank as its most-watched season since 2011.

In other MLB action, Dodgers-Giants drew a mere 0.46 rating and 787,000 viewers on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball last week — topping only Giants-Cubs the previous week (0.35, 634K) as the least-watched Sunday night game of the season. TBS chipped in a mere 249,000 for Astros-Rays on Tuesday night, with figures for the Cardinals-Padres nightcap unavailable.

(Nielsen estimates from Programming Insider 9.23, Fox Sports, YES Network, ShowBuzz Daily 9.20, 9.21)

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