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Baseball's postseason lifts prime-time audiences for ESPN, TBS, FS1, MLB Network

Major League Baseball TV rights-holders climbed the ratings ladder during the week ended Oct. 8 as the league opened its 2017 postseason.

ESPN (US), which counted three of the top four cable shows of the week, including the No. 2 program with its coverage of the American League Wild Card game, easily won the period that began Oct. 2, averaging 3.74 million viewers.

Carrying the National League Wild Card game and National League Division Series action, TBS (US) finished third for the week with 2.38 million viewers on average, according to a Walt Disney Co. analysis of Nielsen Holdings data, up from the sixth spot the prior week, when it averaged 1.11 million watchers.

Airing action from the American League Division Series, FOX Sports 1 (US) ranked fourth, scoring with 1.62 million watchers, a better than five-fold leap from the 305,000 it averaged the week of Sept. 25 through Oct. 1.

MLB Network (US) — whose coverage of the 13-inning Game 2 of the American League Division Series between Cleveland and the New York Yankees on Oct. 6 spilled into prime time and was the 21st most-watched program of the week with just over 3.20 million watchers — saw its audience almost quadruple to 597,000 from 158,000. Major League Baseball's in-house service benefited from a free preview that greatly expanded its subscriber base.

The news networks were also well-represented last week. FOX News Channel (US) placed second with 2.45 million watchers, while MSNBC (US) was fifth with 1.48 million viewers. Rival CNN (US) ranked sixth during the period, counting 1.18 million watchers on average.

Things were tight over the next few spots. USA (US) was seventh with 1.14 million viewers, nipping eighth-place HGTV (US)'s 1.13 million. Disney Channel (US) (925,000) edged into ninth place, just ahead of Hallmark Channel (US) (924,000).

Finishing just outside the top 10 were TNT (US) and Food Network (US), both of which averaged 912,000 watchers in prime time, while History (US) was 13th overall with 904,000.

Gauged by total-programming day, FOX News was first with 1.64 million watchers, holding a sizable lead over ESPN’s 1.14 million. Nickelodeon showed in third with 953,000, compared with 914,000 and 909,000 for MSNBC and CNN, respectively.

Sports fare accounted for the top six programs of the week and seven of the top 10. ESPN tackled the top spot with some 12 million viewers for its Oct. 2 "Monday Night Football" telecast of Kansas City-Washington, the second position with the aforementioned Oct. 3 Yankees-Minnesota AL Wild Card telecast that connected with 6.83 million watchers, and the fourth spot with 4.77 million for the Alabama-Texas A&M college football match-up on Oct. 7.

The third game of the American League Division Series matching the New York Yankees and Cleveland on Oct. 8 pulled in 5.29 million viewers on Fox Sports 1, good for third overall last week, while the first game of the series on Oct. 5 averaged 3.79 million viewers for the network.

TBS' coverage of the Arizona-Colorado NL Wild Card game on Oct. 4 was fifth for the week with 4.4 million viewers, ahead of NFL Network's 3.91 million for its portion of the Oct. 5 "Thursday Night Football" game pitting New England versus Tampa Bay (CBS (US) and Inc.'s Prime Video also presented the contest).

Fox News Channel's "Hannity" nabbed spots seven and 11, led by the 3.87 million viewers for the show's Oct. 3 edition.

As was the case the prior week, Hallmark Channel scored the most-watched entertainment program with the premiere of an original telefilm: "All of My Heart: Inn Love" checked in with 2.78 million viewers during its Oct. 7 debut.