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SBJ/Sept. 29-Oct. 5, 2014/Media

Cardinals lead way in MLB local TV ratings

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St. Louis Cardinals games on FS Midwest have proved to be baseball’s top local TV draw this season.

Boosted by the Cardinals’ continued on-field success, St. Louis was on pace last week to have the highest local rating among MLB’s teams at season’s end for the first time since 2010. Heading into the final weekend of the season, Cardinals games were averaging a 7.76 rating and 95,000 homes, putting St. Louis ahead of another playoff-bound team, Detroit, who was averaging a 7.62 rating on FS Detroit.

The Tigers posted the highest local rating among MLB clubs the past two seasons.

SportsBusiness Journal reviewed data from all 30 MLB teams. Overall, 12 of the clubs showed local ratings increases from last season, 16 showed decreases and two were flat. The 16 teams seeing local ratings drops is the most since 2008, when 17 clubs posted year-over-year declines.

MLB teams’ RSN ratings

AVERAGE RATING

Team RSN Avg. rating (Change)
Top 5
St. Louis Cardinals FS Midwest 7.76 (-12%)
Detroit Tigers FS Detroit 7.62 (-21%)
Pittsburgh Pirates Root Sports Pittsburgh 7.49 (-6%)
Kansas City Royals FS Kansas City 6.51 (0%)
Cleveland Indians SportsTime Ohio 6.17 (+14%)
Bottom 5
Chicago Cubs CSN Chicago 1.50 (-6%)
Oakland A's CSN California 1.34 (+7%)
Chicago White Sox CSN Chicago 1.15 (+4%)
Los Angeles Dodgers SportsNet LA 0.80 (-70%)
Houston Astros CSN Houston 0.35 (-10%)

AVERAGE AUDIENCE SIZE

Team RSN Avg. no. of HHs (change*)
Top 5
New York Yankees YES 221,000 (+27,000)
Detroit Tigers FS Detroit 141,000 (-36,000)
New York Mets SportsNet New York 125,000 (+9,000)
Boston Red Sox NESN 114,000 (-59,000)
San Francisco Giants CSN Bay Area 102,000 (+1,000)
Bottom 5
Colorado Rockies Root Sports Rocky Mtn. 37,000 (-6,000)
San Diego Padres FS San Diego 34,000 (+7,000)
Oakland A's CSN California 34,000 (+3,000)
Miami Marlins FS Florida 27,000 (+6,000)
Houston Astros CSN Houston 8,000 (-1,000)

* Compared to late-season 2013 data.
Note: As of the final week of the regular season. RSNs have different reporting dates, and some of the 30 teams had as many as eight games remaining.
Source: SportsBusiness Journal analysis of Nielsen data

A good-news story this season came in Milwaukee, where the Brewers were in postseason contention most of the year and games on FS Wisconsin posted a 48 percent increase from 2013 — though the average rating of 5.71 still trails the team’s high mark from 2011, when the Brewers won the NL Central.

Surprisingly, Orioles ratings in Baltimore dropped 10 percent this season despite the fact that the team won its first AL East title since 1997. Still, the team’s 5.88 rating on MASN is its second highest since that 1997 season, when Orioles games were carried by Home Team Sports.

MASN’s other team, the NL East division-winning Washington Nationals, also saw a ratings drop this season. The Nationals’ 2.29 average rating was down 16 percent. Washington registered a 74 percent jump in 2012, the last time it won the NL East. It gained another 8 percent last year, when the team fell just short of the playoffs.

In Kansas City, despite the Royals’ drive for their first playoff appearance since 1985, ratings for games on FS Kansas City were flat. The team was averaging the league’s fourth-highest local rating (6.51) heading into the season’s final days, just behind playoff-bound Pittsburgh. Pirates games on Root Sports Pittsburgh were averaging a 7.49 rating, down 6 percent from last year.

Among other surprises, through Sept. 23, Toronto Blue Jays games on Rogers Sportsnet were up 13 percent, averaging 590,000 viewers, despite the team’s sub-par season (Rogers does not provide average number of households.)

New York Yankees ratings on YES Network rose 13 percent during Derek Jeter’s final season, ending a four-year streak where the team experienced viewer decreases. The Yankees’ 221,000 average household figure was baseball’s biggest in 2014, by far.

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