SBD/Issue 24/Sports Media

ESPN, Fox See MLB Ratings, Viewership Decline For Regular Season

Fox averaged a 1.8 rating and 2.74 million viewers for its 26 MLB Saturday afternoon telecasts this season, down 10% and 6%, respectively, from last season, and down 22% and 17% from '07. This season marked the fifth straight year of ratings declines for the Saturday telecasts, as well as the lowest average for regular-season telecasts on Fox since the net acquired MLB rights prior to the '96 season. Fox drew less than a 2.0 rating for 18 of the 26 telecasts, with seven telecasts drawing less than a 1.5 rating. The most-viewed telecast was April 25, featuring Yankees-Red Sox in 78% of markets, which drew 4.086 million viewers. Fox' final regular-season telecast on October 3 -- which was going against a full schedule of college football -- was the least-viewed this season, drawing 1.741 million viewers and featuring Royals-Twins in 61% of markets (THE DAILY).

MLB REGULAR-SEASON RATINGS ON FOX
YEAR
NET
TELECASTS
RATING
VIEWERS (000)
'09
Fox
26
1.8
2,740
'08
Fox
26
2.0
2,900
'07
Fox
26
2.3
3,312

ESPN: ESPN averaged a 1.3 cable rating and 1.607 million viewers for 66 regular-season telecasts, down 8% and 5%, respectively, from last season. The net's exclusive "Sunday Night Baseball" telecasts averaged a 1.9 cable rating and 2.458 million viewers for 23 games, down 5% and 6% from last season. "SNB" featured Yankees-Red Sox four times this season. Excluding the September 27 game, which started at 2:00pm ET due to Yom Kippur, the Yankees-Red Sox matchups averaged 4.625 million viewers, up 14% from the three Yankees-Red Sox telecasts last season.

'09 MLB REGULAR-SEASON GAMES ON ESPN
YEAR
GAMES
CABLE RATING
VIEWERS (000)
'09
66
1.3
1,607
'08
63
1.4
1,693
'07
64
1.5
1,775
"SUNDAY NIGHT BASEBALL" ON ESPN
YEAR
GAMES
CABLE RATING
VIEWERS (000)
'09
23
1.9
2,458
'08
24
2.0
2,617
'07
23
2.2
2,752

TBS: During its second year of regular-season telecasts, TBS averaged a 0.7 cable rating and 931,000 viewers for 28 telecasts, including the Twins-Tigers AL Central tiebreaker, in its second season as a national rights holder for regular-season games. The figures are up from a 0.6 rating and 731,000 viewers for 26 telecasts in '08, including the White Sox-Twins tiebreaker. Excluding the tiebreaker games, the net averaged 614,000 viewers for its non-exclusive telecasts, down from 624,000 viewers last season. The April 19 Indians-Yankees telecast was the only non-exclusive TBS game to earn over 1 million viewers since TBS began regular-season telecasts.

REGIONAL NETS: The Red Sox once again led all MLB RSNs with a 9.39 HH rating, which was down 7.2% from their mark last season. The Nationals saw the biggest percentage gain among MLB RSN ratings, but still only managed to average 14,000 HHs, compared to around 228,000 HHs for the Red Sox on NESN. The A's had the biggest year-over-year drop this season, and were among 10 teams to see a double-digit drop. There were 12 teams with double-digit percentage gains this season, including Pirates telecasts on FSN Pittsburgh (+17.8%) (THE DAILY). Yankees telecasts on YES Network this season earned the second-highest season rating ever on cable in N.Y., trailing only YES' 4.69 rating from the '07 season (YES). Mariners TV ratings on FSN Northwest this season were up "on the strength of a resurgent season on the field." FSN Northwest VP & Station Manager Mark Jorgensen said, "The Seattle market is always friendly to baseball, especially the Mariners. It really is the envy of major-league baseball in a lot of ways" (SEATTLE TIMES, 10/14). CSN Philadelphia had its highest-rated Phillies regular season in the net's 12-year history (CSN Philadelphia).

'09 MLB RSN REGULAR-SEASON RATINGS
(ranked by percentage gain from '08)
NET
TEAM
'09
'08
% +/-
'07
2-YR % +/-
MASN/MASN2
Nationals
0.66
0.34
94.1%
0.69
-4.3%
FS Southwest
Rangers
2.51
1.60
56.9%
1.40
79.3%
FS South Braves
3.41
2.38
43.3%
3.33
2.4%
CSN Bay Area Giants
3.25
2.32
40.1%
2.77
17.3%
SportSouth Braves
3.41
2.46
38.6%
3.42
-0.3%
FSN Rocky Mountain Rockies
4.19
3.28
27.7%
3.47
20.7%
FSN Northwest Mariners
5.17
4.16
24.3%
8.22
-37.1%
CSN Philadelphia Phillies
7.12
5.75
23.8%
5.53
28.8%
FSN Pittsburgh Pirates
3.25
2.76
17.8%
3.24
0.3%
FS North Twins
6.28
7.47
-15.9%
6.84
-8.2%
MASN/MASN2 Orioles
2.97
2.64
12.5%
3.00
-1.0%
FS Detroit Tigers
6.95
6.26
11.0%
7.54
-7.8%
FS Prime Ticket Dodgers
2.19
2.00
9.5%
1.90
15.3%
YES Yankees
4.62
4.22
9.5%
4.69
-1.5%
FS Kansas City** Royals
3.08
2.84
8.5%
n/a
n/a
CSN Chicago White Sox
2.27
2.19
3.7%
1.31
73.3%
FS Midwest Cardinals
7.90
7.89
0.1%
7.50
5.3%
FS Southwest Astros
2.86
3.08
-7.1%
3.94
-27.4%
NESN Red Sox
9.39
10.12
-7.2%
12.20
-23.0%
FS Florida Marlins
3.32
3.63
-8.5%
3.14
5.7%
Cox/SD4 Padres
3.78
4.21
-10.2%
7.03
-46.2%
FS Florida Rays
3.10
3.47
-10.7%
1.74
78.2%
Sun Sports Marlins
3.21
3.68
-12.8%
3.03
5.9%
FS West Angels
1.21
1.40
-13.6%
1.60
-24.4%
CSN Chicago Cubs
4.13
4.96
-16.7%
4.21
-1.9%
SNY Mets
2.66
3.24
-17.9%
3.26
-18.4%
FS Wisconsin Brewers
6.07
7.47
-18.7%
7.45
-18.5%
FS Arizona D'Backs
3.29
4.06
-19.0%
4.79
-31.3%
FS Ohio Reds
3.77
4.92
-23.4%
4.96
-24.0%
SportsTime Ohio Indians
2.79
3.88
-28.1%
5.80
-51.9%
CSN California* A's
0.80
1.73
-53.8%
1.77
-54.8%


NOTES: Data is unavailable for Blue Jays telecasts. * = games aired on CSN Bay Area last year. ** = Royals games were aired locally on KC Metro Sports in '07.

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