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MLB playoff ratings steady in LCS after declines in wild-card and division rounds

Baseball’s League Championship Series are producing solid ratings after seeing declines during the first two rounds.

According to Nielsen, the LCS English and Spanish broadcasts for the first two games are averaging 5.2 million, which is even with last year.

The LCS ratings are holding steady despite not having a team from New York, Chicago or Los Angeles — the country’s three largest TV markets — in the round for the first time since 2014. The teams with the five best regular-season records are also watching from home.

“I do believe variety is a good thing for our sports. You look at other sports, they have the same mix,” Commissioner Rob Manfred said on ESPN’s “First Take” before the postseason. “We have 30 markets. Everyone has to have a chance to compete.”

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Texas’ 2-0 victory over Houston in Game 1 of the ALCS on Oct. 15 averaged 7.27 million on Fox, Fox Deportes and streaming. That was the most viewed opening game of the ALCS since 2010 when the Rangers faced the New York Yankees and averaged 8.11 million. It also marked a 28% increase from last year’s first game between the Astros and Yankees.

Last Sunday’s game benefitted from a strong lead-in with Fox having an NFL doubleheader. The late afternoon window on Fox averaged 26.09 million, including the New York Jets’ upset win over the Philadelphia Eagles.

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The early numbers are good news after the wild-card round on ESPN and ABC was down 18% from last year. The Division Series on TBS, Fox and FS1 were off 8.8%.

The wild-card games saw declines because they took place during the middle of the week instead of the weekend, like last year.

This year’s division round featured no series that went the full five games and had two sweeps. This year’s run differential was 3.85 per game compared to last year’s 2.5.

However, the Philadelphia Phillies making the NLCS for the second straight year helped bolster ratings. The Phillies-Atlanta Braves series averaged 4.6 million viewers, making it the most watched NLDS on TBS in eight years.

The Phillies’ 10-0 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks in Tuesday’s second game of the NLCS averaged 5.3 million on TBS, TruTV and Max.