Despite the lopsided result on the diamond, ESPN’s inaugural MLB Wild Card telecast shined as the most-watched and highest-rated game for the sport’s recent playoff format.
ESPN’s first swing in Major League Baseball’s postseason since 2006 delivered a record 3.6 U.S. rating and 5.59 million viewers for the National League Wild Card game, according to Nielsen fast nationals data.
Coverage of the Giants’ 8-0 win on Oct. 1, which ended the Pirates season, surpassed the 5.23 million viewers on TBS, who watched the Kansas City Royals’ exciting 9-8, 12th inning win over the Oakland A’s by 7%. Giants-Pirates -- San Francisco jumped out to a 4-0 lead on Brandon Crawford's fourth-inning Grand Slam (pictured) -- was up 22% in viewership and 20% in ratings compared to the 2013 NL Wild Card telecast on TBS in which the Pirates topped the Cincinnati Reds.
MLB introduced the 10-team playoff format that includes a Wild Card game in both the senior and junior circuits during the 2012 playoffs.
The Giants-Pirates contest was also the most-viewed MLB game ever on WatchESPN with more than 9.9 million total minutes viewed and an average minute audience of 48,589. Those figures were 126% higher for total minutes and 156% higher for average minute audience than the previous WatchESPN record with baseball.