ESPN and ESPNews combined to earn a 4.4 overnight rating for Bryce Harper’s win in the T-Mobile Home Run Derby last night, down 23% from ’17, which drew a 5.7 on ESPN and ESPN2. Last year’s event (an 8-year ratings high) had noticeably more star power with the likes of Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge competing, while last night’s event also saw considerable competition from cable news networks. Ratings for CNN, MSNBC and Fox News saw a 39% year-over-year increase last night, with discussion around President Trump’s meeting with Vladimir Putin. The Derby on ESPN alone last night drew a 4.1 overnight, which is up from a 4.0 for the event in ’16, won by Stanton. The Derby last night peaked at a 4.5 rating from 9:15-9:30pm ET. DC and Chicago (the event featured two Cubs players) led all markets with a 9.0 rating. Based on overnights, ESPN projects to be in the top two networks across all TV in primetime last night (Josh Carpenter, Assistant Editor).
VIRTUAL WORLD: Yesterday's final of the inaugural Home Run Derby VR Championship competition drew a peak audience of more than 120,000 viewers on Twitch. The event, following qualifying rounds that were open to the FanFest and Play Ball Park visitors in DC over the weekend, was also streamed live on YouTube, Facebook and Mixer (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer).
PLAYING HARD BALL: In N.Y., Bob Raissman wrote Fox is going to "start shoving" former MLBer David Ortiz "down America's throat." Ortiz "doesn't know when to shut up, talks over colleagues, and cannot be controlled" host Kevin Burkhardt (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/15). Also in N.Y., Phil Mushnick wrote under the header, "ESPN Making Baseball Tougher To Watch By Trying Too Hard." Routinely starting with the first pitch, ESPN "will prove that it’s incompatible with genuine baseball fans." Last Sunday's Dodgers-Angels game "was ESPN-standard insufferable" (N.Y. POST, 7/15).