SBJ/Oct. 5-11, 2015/Media

Outta here! Royals’ local ratings up 90%

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The Kansas City Royals were on the verge last week of posting MLB’s highest local TV rating for a season in 13 years.

The American League Central Division champions’ games on FS Kansas City were averaging a whopping 12.33 rating as of last week, up 90 percent from last year. That mark, with one week to go in the season, was baseball’s highest since 2002, when the Seattle Mariners averaged a 13.2 rating the year after the team made back-to-back trips to the American League Championship Series.

The Royals and Cardinals lead the way in local ratings.
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES

The Royals’ rating sits comfortably ahead of the mark of cross-state rival St. Louis. The Cardinals’ 10.01 average on FS Midwest, however, is the league’s second-highest rating this year, marking the first time two teams from the same state have occupied the top two spots in MLB’s full-season local ratings chart. A consistent TV hit in the St. Louis market, the Cardinals’ ratings were up 31 percent this year as the team carried baseball’s best record for much of the season. It’s the 16th consecutive year the Cardinals’ local ratings have ranked among the league’s top three.

MLB teams’ RSN ratings

AVERAGE RATING

TOP 5

TEAM RSN AVG. RATING
(CHANGE*)
Kansas City Royals FS Kansas City 12.33 (+90%)
St. Louis Cardinals FS Midwest 10.01 (+31%)
Pittsburgh Pirates Root Sports Pittsburgh 8.33 (+11%)
Detroit Tigers FS Detroit 6.35 (-17%)
Baltimore Orioles MASN 5.35 (0%)

BOTTOM 5

TEAM RSN AVG. RATING
(CHANGE*)
Miami Marlins FS Florida 1.76 (+9%)
Los Angeles Angels FS West 1.43 (-15%)
Los Angeles Dodgers SportsNet LA 0.95 (+25%)
Oakland A’s CSN California 0.91 (-31%)
Chicago White Sox CSN Chicago 0.82 (-29%)

AVG. RATING CHANGE

TOP 5

TEAM RSN CHANGE*
(AVG. RATING)
Houston Astros Root Sports Houston^ +497% (2.15)
Chicago Cubs CSN Chicago +122% (3.31)
Kansas City Royals FS Kansas City +90% (12.33)
New York Mets SportsNet New York +56% (2.64)
St. Louis Cardinals FS Midwest +31% (10.01)

BOTTOM 5

TEAM RSN CHANGE*
(AVG. RATING)
Chicago White Sox CSN Chicago -29% (0.82)
Milwaukee Brewers FS Wisconsin -30% (3.99)
Oakland A’s CSN California -31% (0.91)
Cleveland Indians SportsTime Ohio -35% (3.99)
Atlanta Braves FS South / SportSouth -36% (1.81)

* Compared with late-season 2014 data.
^ Astros’ games aired on CSN Houston in 2014.
Note: Similar data was unavailable for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Source: SportsBusiness Journal analysis of Nielsen data

SportsBusiness Journal reviewed data from all 29 U.S.-based MLB teams. Overall, an impressive 16 of the clubs showed local ratings increases from last season, up from 12 teams with increases last year versus 2013. Twelve teams showed decreases and one was flat.

Another notable ratings story this year occurred in New York, where the local ratings for the Big Apple’s two playoff-bound teams are as close as they have ever been. New York Yankees games were down 7 percent on YES Network this season, averaging a 2.78 rating (207,000 homes). At the same time, New York Mets games on SportsNet New York were up 56 percent, averaging a 2.64 rating (196,000 homes). Playing in the country’s largest media market, the Yankees and the Mets rank first and second among MLB clubs in terms of average audience size.

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, the country’s second-largest market, the numbers tell a different story. Angels games on FS West outdrew Dodgers games on SportsNet LA, 79,000 to 52,000 homes on average. The Dodgers’ also averaged the league’s second-lowest local TV rating despite winning the National League West for a third consecutive season. The low rating, however, is due largely to distribution problems that have seen most of the market’s cable and satellite companies refuse to carry SportsNet LA, meaning fewer viewers and lower ratings than a fully distributed channel.

On the flip side, channel distribution helped the Houston Astros’ ratings on Root Sports Houston this year. The Astros’ average rating shot up almost six times from last season’s mark, to a 2.15 average. Last year, the team’s games were on CSN Houston, which did not have a lot of distribution in the market and resulted in the Astros being the lowest-rated MLB team annually for a third consecutive season. The team’s ratings this year also were aided by a surprise performance by on the field, with Houston being in postseason contention all year.

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