Major League Baseball's lack of postseason parity benefitted the Ivy League immensely as Cornell and Harvard received a bump from ESPNU to ESPN2. The multiple sweeps across the Wild Card round facilitated this move. While Harvard last played on ESPN2 in 2018, when The Game made a rare appearance at Fenway Park, this is a rare occurrence for Cornell.
The Big Red have not appeared on ESPN or ESPN2 since 1990, when they played Brown on ESPN on October 28 of that year. From 1988-1990, the Ivy League had a TV contract with ESPN, which aired five Ancient Eight games per season. The league received $175,000 from the network, or $408,279.26 in today's money. The Big Red demolished the Brown 34-7, led by John McNiff's 95 rush yards and a record-setting, 99-yard pick-six by linebacker Mark Broderick.
Cornell and Harvard will see a significant bump in viewership. Data gathered from Sportsmediawatch.com shows ESPN's Friday night games average around 1.4 million viewers thus far.
Even the lowest-viewed game, Army-UTSA, drew just below one million viewers. The Ivy League does not disclose viewership or rating numbers for their Friday night ESPNU games, but Harvard-Cornell exceeding 500,000 viewers on ESPN2 is a victory for the league.
In the end, through a strange turn of events, the biggest beneficiary of Major League Baseball's expansion of the playoff round was the Ivy League. With Cornell seeing the ESPN/ESPN2 lights for the first time in over three decades, it is time to party like it is 1990.