ESPN's 'Home Run Derby' Delivers Cable’s Top 2008 Telecast


Much like Josh Hamilton, who was belting them into the Bronx night, ESPN went very deep with its presentation of the 2008 State Farm Home Run Derby Monday night, as the slugfest became the most-watched show on cable this year.

ESPN clubbed a 6.4 household rating, 6.18 million household impressions and 9.1 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research data.

The event, in which the Texas Rangers outfielder Hamilton powered a single-round record 28 home runs, many into the upper deck and rightfield bleachers at Yankee Stadium, drew 9.1 million viewers, surpassing the 8.9 million viewers for the June 20 premiere of Disney Channel's original telefilm Camp Rock.

The Home Run Derby pushed ESPN to the top spot in cable and broadcast on July 14  among viewers, men 18 to 34,18 to 49 and 25 to 54, as well as with all viewers in those demos, according to network officials.

Monday night’s derby was up 35% over last year’s competition relative to viewers (6.78 million) 29% in households (4.78 million) and 25% in rating (5.1). The competition, ultimately won by the Minnesota Twins first baseman Justin Morneau, was ESPN’s top Derby telecast since the 1999 affair in Fenway Park scored a 7.5 rating. The July 14 telecast was ESPN’s most-viewed, non-NFL program in households since the Florida State-Miami college football game counted 6.24 million on Sept. 5, 2006.

Airing immediately after the Derby, the Taco Bell Legends and Celebrity Softball Game, earned a 2.5 rating, 2.44 million households and an average of 3.3 million watchers, its highest total since 2002, when it attracted 2.84 million households and 4.03 million viewers on average.