SBD/October 8, 2015/Media

MLB Regular-Season Viewership Rises On National TV, Majority Of RSN Partners

WANT MORE GREAT STORIES LIKE THIS?

CLICK ON ONE OF THESE BUTTONS

ALREADY A
SUBSCRIBER?
SEE IF
YOU LIKE IT
GET IT ALL
(PREMIUM ACCESS)

A look across the board for MLB viewership during the regular season shows a positive trend -- both nationally and locally. With big markets returning to the playoff picture in '15, all national TV partners saw viewership gains, and 17 of 30 MLB clubs saw gains on their respective RSNs. Fox saw an increase for its MLB game coverage after three straight years of declines. The broadcast net averaged 2.2 million viewers, up 16% from a record-low 1.9 million viewers last year, but below the 2.4 million average viewers in ’13. FS1 in its second season airing MLB games averaged 504,000 viewers, up 22% from 413,000 viewers last season. 

FOX MLB SATURDAY REGULAR-SEASON TREND
SEASON
VIEWERS (000)
'15
2,200
'14
1,900
'13
2,400
'12
2,500
'11
2,744
'10
2,700
'09
2,700
'08
2,900
'07
3,312
'06
3,348
   

CRESCENDO MUSIC: ESPN rode a strong second half of the season -- including big numbers over the final two weeks -- to a slight gain for its regular season coverage, which includes Monday, Wednesday and Sunday night telecasts. But the flagship net's "Sunday Night Baseball" broadcasts saw a 1% viewership decline (1.78 million viewers vs. 1.81 million viewers). However, the script would likely have been flipped if the season-opening Cardinals-Cubs had been included, but that game was on ESPN2, whose numbers are annually excluded from the "SNB" average. That opener drew 3.4 million viewers, marking the best MLB audience on ESPN or ESPN2 during the regular season. No other game topped 3 million viewers. Meanwhile, ESPN did see gains this season for its Opening Day and Home Run Derby coverage.

ESPN MLB REGULAR-SEASON VIEWERSHIP TREND
SEASON
ALL GAMES (000)
"SNB" (000)
'15
1,180
1,784
'14
1,129
1,808
'13
1,091
1,850
'12
1,018
1,784
'11
1,449
2,294
'10
1,386
2,177
'09
1,607
2,458
'08
1,693
2,617
'07
1,775
2,752

RISING TIDE: MLB Network saw its most-watched regular season in '15. The net's live games averaged 260,000 viewers, up 16% over 225,000 viewers in '14. This season also saw MLB Network deliver its most-watched Opening Day, opening week and trade deadline, while each month from May to September set audience records for their respective month. Meanwhile, TBS, which aired 13 Sunday afternoon telecasts this season that aired alongside the local RSN broadcasts, averaged 413,000 viewers for its games, up 34% from 309,000 viewers last year.

WHERE THE BEEF IS: Playoff teams saw big gains locally this season. The Royals led all RSN ratings with a 12.3 figure in K.C., which the best local rating for any MLB club since the Mariners drew a 13.2 in ’02. The team’s figure on FS K.C. was also a franchise record, beating out the record set last year by 84%. This was the first time the Royals led all of MLB locally on TV. FS K.C. also saw a 105% gain for its Royals pregame show and an 89% jump for postgame coverage. Ranking second were the Cardinals with an FS Midwest-record 10.0 local rating in St. Louis, up 29% from last year and beating the previous high set in ’10 (9.4). The Cardinals have now been in the top three for local MLB ratings for 16 straight seasons. Rounding out the top five local ratings were the Pirates on Root Sports Pittsburgh (8.3), Tigers on FS Detroit (6.4) and Orioles on MASN (5.4). The Blue Jays saw a second straight season of record numbers on Sportsnet in Canada, as game audience was up 68% from ’14. The combination of the Astros' move to Root Sports Houston -- which is available in far more homes than previous rightsholder, now-defunct CSN Houston -- and the team's postseason run resulted in a 497% jump on TV in the market, leading all clubs. The Cubs also were up 122% on CSN Chicago, with the team's 3.3 local rating marking the RSN's best figure in six years.

GET LOW: Braves games on FS South and SportSouth (now FS Southeast) saw the sharpest drop among all clubs, down 36% from ’14. The White Sox had the lowest figure among MLB clubs with a 0.8 local rating on CSN Chicago, down 29% from last year. Distribution issues also hurt the Dodgers on the team’s run to the playoffs. Games on SportsNet LA averaged just under a 1.0 local rating, which was third-worst in MLB.

Return to top

Related Topics:

Media, MLB, ESPN, Fox, FS1, Turner Sports

Video Powered By - Castfire CMS Powered By - Sitecore

Report a Bug