Relatively speaking, viewers still love the Home Run Derby (2002-2015 viewership)


Update 2: This year’s Derby averaged 7.126 million viewers and was the most-watched since 2009 (8.3M).

Update: in the overnight’s (which measure the largest 56 markets out of a total of 210) the Derby scored a 4.9 overnight rating. Up 26% vs last year but on par with other recent years – 2013 had a 5.0 overnight. Will add viewership when it’s available.

Tonight marks the 30th anniversary of Major League Baseball’s Home Run Derby though ESPN didn’t begin televising the event until 1993 and from 1993-1997 the event was tape-delayed. Live telecasts began in 1998. 

Still trying to dig the viewership numbers up from 1998-2001, but from 2002-2014, 2008 was the peak year with 9.1 million. Last year was near the low with 5.4 million viewers, though last year’s Derby was a rain-delayed affair.

Are the changes to this year’s Home Run Derby setup a response to last year’s numbers, chronic media Home Run Derby handwringing hot takes or both?

Like the NFL’s Pro Bowl, there is always plenty of complaining about the event but the numbers are always relatively very good. I suspect that like the Pro Bowl, it may play pretty well as a family event on a day where there’s no other MLB competition.

I said the numbers for the event were relatively very good. But relative to what? MLB-wise the answer is relative to pretty much everything but the World Series and the All Star Game.

Remember that amazing come-from-behind win by the Kansas City Royals over the Oakland Athletics to win last year’s American League Wild Card playoff (and ultimately the American League pennant) in 12 innings? That dramatic game averaged 5.2 million viewers on TBS.  While the Giants-Pirates Wild Card game fared a bit better on ESPN (5.6 million viewers) all of last year’s LDS and LCS playoff series averaged less than 5.4 million viewers.

Home Run Derby viewership 2002-2014:

Date Viewers (Millions)
7/14/14 5.4
7/15/13 6.7
7/9/12 6.9
7/11/11 6.7
7/12/10 6.4
7/13/09 8.3
7/14/08 9.1
7/9/07 6.8
7/10/06 6.8
7/11/05 6.3
7/12/04 7.7
7/14/03 5.2
7/8/02 7.7

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