Even for television executives and ratings nerds, spring training baseball usually is a nonevent.
But this month the level of excitement surrounding the Yankees — aided by lousy seasons for the local winter teams and lousy weather — has led to huge numbers for meaningless games.
As of Wednesday, ratings for Yankees spring training games on the YES Network were up an average of 89 percent compared to last year, at an average of 1.53 percent of New York homes.
If that does not sound like much, consider that for the past five consecutive games, YES’ Yankees telecasts were the day’s highest-rated sports event in the New York market, and four of the five were played in the afternoon.
Every day seems to bring more viewership and ratings superlatives.
The March 4 Rays-Yankees game averaged 145,000 viewers, the network’s most-viewed spring training game in five years.
On March 8, Phillies-Yankees averaged 1.39 percent of area homes, the highest such figure for a weekday afternoon spring game in YES history, beating a record set less than a week earlier.
Then YES broke the record again on Tuesday, averaging 1.53 percent of area homes against the Tigers.
On March 10, a Mets-Yankees game averaged 2.57 percent of homes, making it the second highest-rated spring game in YES history.
That was three days after Mets-Yankees on SNY averaged 2.05, making it the highest-rated Grapefruit League game in SNY history, surpassed among preseason games only by the Red Sox-Mets exhibition that opened Citi Field in 2009.
Meanwhile, nationally, on March 3, a Yankees-Red Sox game on MLB Network was the most-watched spring training telecast in network history, with an average of 322,000 viewers.
The record it broke had been set the previous weekend, when a Yankees-Phillies game averaged 313,000.
MLBN’s spring training viewership in New York is up 22 percent compared to this point in 2016. (Last year there was a limited schedule because of the World Baseball Classic.)
John Filippelli, YES’ longtime president of programming, said, “Without launching into too much hyperbole on this, I would say that this is our 17th season, and I don’t know that I’ve been more excited about a season than this season.
“The Yankees came from sort of, I don’t want to say nowhere, but let’s just say that the expectations were not last year that they would come within one game of the World Series. And obviously whatever expectations we had, they far exceeded those expectations last season.
“Having said that, with all that’s happened since then, and the acquisitions they’ve made since then have only made them stronger, I think it’s going to be unbelievably exciting to watch that team, and watch that team grow and mature and to become all that a lot of people believe they can become on the field.”
Last regular season, YES averaged 3.57 percent of area homes for regular-season Yankees games, up 57 percent from 2016 and YES’ best such rating since 2012.
YES said 40 games in 2017 rated of 4.0 or greater, compared with none in 2016.