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It’s safe to say Americans missed baseball in a major way. Per ESPN, the network’s Major League Baseball Opening Night broadcast featuring the New York Yankees at Washington Nationals averaged 4 million viewers — making it the most watched regular season game since 2011.

This is obviously fantastic news for ESPN and MLB, who hope to avoid a pause or complete shutdown of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 in the shortened 60 game season.

The defending World Series Champion Nationals lost to the Yankees 4-1 on Thursday night — coming off the heels of star leftfielder Juan Soto testing positive for the coronavirus. We wish Soto a speedy and healthy recovery.

Press release from ESPN on huge ratings success: San Francisco Giants vs. Los Angeles Dodgers in Second Half of Opening Night Doubleheader is ESPN’s Most-Watched Regular Season Late Night ET Game Ever

ESPN’s exclusive coverage of last night’s New York Yankees vs. the defending World Series Champion Washington Nationals game generated a record average audience of 4,000,000 viewers for a Major League Baseball Opening Night game telecast, according to Fast Nationals from Nielsen. The telecast is the most-watched regular season MLB game on any network since 2011.

ESPN’s record audience for the Yankees vs. Nationals game was up eight percent from the previous Opening Night record set by ESPN’s St. Louis Cardinals vs. Chicago Cubs game on Opening Night in 2017, which drew 3,700,000 viewers. Last night’s telecast was also up 232 percent from last year’s Opening Night telecast between the Boston Red Sox and Seattle Mariners, which drew 1,200,000 viewers. The Yankees vs. Nationals ESPN telecast peaked with 4,480,000 viewers at 8:30 p.m. ET.

The game telecast delivered an 8.4 rating in the Washington D.C. market, which is the highest-rated regular season MLB game ever on ESPN in the market. It also generated a 7.8 rating in the New York market, making it the highest-rated regular season MLB game on ESPN in the market since 2015.

Additionally, the second half of ESPN’s exclusive Opening Night telecast presented by John Deere doubleheader at 10 p.m. ET – the San Francisco Giants vs. the Los Angeles Dodgers – generated an average audience of 2,764,000 viewers and is ESPN’s most-watched MLB regular season late night ET game ever. The telecast drew a 6.9 rating in the San Francisco market, making it the highest-rated regular season MLB game in the market since 2013. In Los Angeles, the telecast drew a 6.8 rating, making it the highest-rated regular season MLB game on ESPN in the market, outside of the 2018 tiebreaker game vs. the Colorado Rockies.

Check out our interview with Baseball Hall of Famer “Big Hurt” Frank Thomas!

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