Baseball Very, Very Good To ESPN, SNY

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A new season and new records for one of Major League Baseball’s national and regional sports network carriers.

ESPN’s coverage of the inaugural ballgame at Nationals Park in Washington D.C. between the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves drew a 2.8 household rating average on March 30, 2.7 million households and 3.66 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research data. The performance was the best-ever for an Opening Night affair on ESPN or ESPN2, according to network officials, as the game won by the Nats on Ryan Zimmerman’s home run in the bottom of the ninth, topped the 2007 opener between the New York Mets and St. Louis Cardinals by 7% in homes and 4% in viewership.

MLB officials said the March 30 contest was the most-watched regular-season game on ESPN, excluding one-game playoffs) not featuring the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees or Mets on cable since 1998.

Speaking of the Amazins, ace off-season acquisition Johan Santana led the club to a 7-2 triumph in their 2008 opener against the Florida Marlins, and regional sports net SNY to a 4.4 household rating in the New York DMA, the best for a Mets beginning on cable.

The game, airing in late-afternoon window from 4:17 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. averaged 407,000 total viewers and 328,000 homes. It peaked with a 6.4 household rating in the 7 p.m. quarter hour, according to SNY officials.