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Volume 27 No. 26
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NESN's Red Sox Viewership Sees Big Drop For 60-Game Season

Viewership of Red Sox broadcasts on NESN during the 60-game season "dropped 54 percent compared with the first 60 games of the 2019 season," according to Chad Finn of the BOSTON GLOBE. Several factors "played into the precipitous drop." In February, the Red Sox traded RF Mookie Betts and P David Price to the Dodgers, then P Chris Sale "required Tommy John surgery and did not pitch this season, while fellow rotation staple Eduardo Rodriguez missed the season while recovering from COVID-19." Finn notes the team did not begin its season until July 24, then lost 18 of its first 24 games -- including nine in a row from Aug. 10-18 -- on the way to finishing 24-36, last in the AL East. Meanwhile, the Bruins and Celtics were both in the playoffs of their restarted seasons. The decision to start home games at 7:30pm ET, when many more fans than usual were home because of the pandemic, "was not well received" (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/6). In Boston, Jason Mastrodonato notes the Red Sox had the "biggest drop of any of the 25 teams that reported data." The Angels (40%) and Mariners (38%) were "far behind the Sox for the biggest fall-off from 2019." Mastrodonato: "Don't blame NESN." They actually had a "solid broadcast this year, using Dennis Eckersley and Jerry Remy alongside Dave O'Brien all season." The three-man booth was a "welcome surprise for the year" (BOSTON HERALD, 10/6).

TRACKING STRATEGY: FORBES' Maury Brown noted MLB saw viewership increase while ratings were down because of a "lower number of households being tracked." Nielsen moved to track viewers "not just at home but also digitally." This provides a window into true viewership, "something that's been missing for some time as mobile via over-the-top (OTT) has become a large part of the equation." Brown: "The problem is, not all of MLB's regional sports networks are part of the paid service now provided by Nielsen." Currently, only 25 RSN MLB teams "play their home games in Nielsen Local People Meter markets where demographic audience information is available daily and play on an RSN that pays for Nielsen's NSI service in that market." All told, 14 of the 25 measured markets "saw increases averaging 36%; 11 were in decline, with the drops averaging 22% in average viewership" (FORBES.com, 10/4).