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Yankees-Nationals opening night game sets ESPN ratings record

Giancarlo Stanton celebrates with Aaron Judge after hitting

Giancarlo Stanton celebrates with Aaron Judge after hitting a two-run homer to center field against Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals on July 23, 2020. Credit: Getty Images/Rob Carr

The Yankees' rain-shortened opening night victory over the Nationals on Thursday averaged 4 million viewers on ESPN, the largest audience for an opening night game in the network's history and the largest for any regular-season baseball game on any network since 2011.

As live competition has returned after the COVID-19 pandemic brought sports to a halt in mid-March, ratings generally have been significantly higher than usual, thanks to pent-up demand and perhaps some curiosity over sports' new, fan-less look.

The Yankees game averaged 7.8% of homes in the New York market, ESPN's best such figure for a regular-season game in New York since 2015. In Washington, an average of 8.4% of homes tuned in, the best such figure ever for ESPN there in the regular season.

The Yankees won, 4-1, in a game shortened to five innings by rain.

ESPN's previous high for an opening night game was 3.7 million for Cardinals and Cubs in 2017. Last year, the Red Sox and Mariners drew only 1.2 million.

The second game of ESPN's opening night doubleheader between the Giants and Dodgers averaged 2.8 million homes, the most ever for a late-night game on ESPN in the regular season.

New York Sports