TV viewers welcome baseball back, at least for now

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New York Yankees relief pitcher Tommy Kahnle throws during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park, Sunday, July 26, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

NEW YORK – Perhaps sensing the abbreviated season might not last long, television viewers welcomed baseball back with open arms from its coronavirus hiatus.

ESPN's coverage of the first game back, between the New York Yankees and Washington Nationals last Thursday, was the most-watched regular season baseball game in nine years, the Nielsen company said.

Weekend ratings were also solid. But considering that Major League Baseball on Tuesday temporarily suspended the Miami Marlins' season for the rest of the week because of their COVID-19 outbreak, there are fresh fears that the season will not be completed.

Fox's Saturday night coverage of Washington's win over the Yankees reached 2.8 million, or 19% over the average for all of its' prime-time games last year.

ESPN's weekend slate of games, taken as a whole, were up 70% percent in audience over weekend games last year, Nielsen said.

News programming continued to dominate prime time last week, led by a CBS rerun of “60 Minutes."

CBS led all broadcast networks with an average of 3.1 million viewers in prime time. NBC had 2.8 million, ABC had 2.2 million, Fox had 1.6 million, Univision had 1.4 million, ION Television had 1.1 million and Telemundo average 880,000.

Fox News Channel led the cable networks, averaging 3.05 million viewers in prime time. MSNBC had 2.04 million, CNN had 1.36 million, HGTV had 1.3 million and TLC had 1.29 million.

ABC's “World News Tonight” led the evening newscasts with an average of 8.8 million viewers. NBC's “Nightly News” had 7.6 million, and the “CBS Evening News” had 5.3 million.

For the week of July 20-26, the 20 most popular prime-time programs, their networks and viewerships:

1. “60 Minutes,” CBS, 6.52 million.

2. “NCIS,” CBS, 5.36 million.

3. “America's Got Talent,” NBC, 5.08 million.

4. “Celebrity Family Feud,” ABC, 4.44 million.

5. “Hannity” (Thursday), Fox News, 4.35 million.

6. “Hannity” (Wednesday), Fox News, 4.29 million.

7. “Tucker Carlson Tonight” (Wednesday), Fox News, 4.24 million.

8. “Hannity” (Tuesday), Fox News, 4.17 million.

9. “FBI,” CBS, 4.12 million.

10. “Young Sheldon,” CBS, 4.113 million.

11. “Tucker Carlson Tonight” (Tuesday), Fox News, 4.105 million.

12. ML Baseball: N.Y. Yankees at Washington, ESPN, 4.08 million.

13. “America's Funniest Home Videos,” ABC, 4.05 million.

14. “Tucker Carlson Tonight” (Thursday), Fox News, 4.023 million.

15. “Tucker Carlson Tonight” (Monday), Fox News, 4.022 million.

16. “Hannity” (Monday), Fox News, 3.9 million.

17. “Titan Games,” NBC, 3.82 million.

18. “Chicago PD,” NBC, 3.78 million.

19. “The Neighborhood,” CBS, 3.77 million.

20. “Yellowstone,” Paramount, 3.68 million.