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Volume 22 No. 49
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Phillies’ relentless climb leads to top of MLB local ratings chart

A second-half surge in TV viewership propelled the Philadelphia Phillies to the top spot among MLB’s local RSN ratings this season.

The team ended the season with a 9.1 rating on Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia, edging out the second place St. Louis Cardinals (9.0) on FS Midwest. That difference shrank considerably during the season’s final week, as the Cardinals set RSN ratings records while outlasting the Atlanta Braves for a wild card slot on the season’s final day. The Phillies, meanwhile, were coasting into the playoffs.

The Astros, with MLB’s worst record, saw ratings drop 40 percent, second worst overall.

Still, the Phillies saw their ratings rise by 11 percent, an amazing ninth consecutive season of ratings growth. During that period, Phillies ratings have grown a stunning 176 percent. The average 276,000 homes that watched each Phillies game was second only to the New York Yankees this season.

“It’s been building for a couple of years,” said Brian Monihan, CSN Philadelphia senior vice president and general manager. “When the Phillies signed Cliff Lee in the offseason, it really pushed things to a new level.”

MLB teams’ RSN ratings*

Top 5
Team RSN 2011 rating (Change^)
Philadelphia CSN 9.12 (+10.5%)
St. Louis FS Midwest 9.00 (-4.5%)
Milwaukee FS Wisconsin 7.95 (+59.0%)
Boston NESN 7.80 (+31.1%)
Cincinnati FS Ohio 7.44 (-0.5%)
Bottom 5    
Houston FS Houston 1.51 (-40.3%)
Oakland CSN California
1.24 (+5.1%)
Washington MASN/MASN2 1.22 (-4.7%)
Los Angeles Angels FS West 1.14 (-5.8%)
Los Angeles Dodgers FS Prime Ticket 1.14 (-30.1%)
Top 5
Team RSN Change^ (2011 rating)
Cleveland SportsTime Ohio +108.9% (6.31)
Milwaukee FS Wisconsin +59.0% (7.95)
Pittsburgh Root Sports Pittsburgh +49.1% (4.89)
Kansas City FS Kansas City +31.4% (3.35)
Boston NESN +31.1% (7.80)
Bottom 5    
Minnesota FS North -28.3% (6.24)
Los Angeles Dodgers FS Prime Ticket -30.1% (1.14)
Tampa Bay FS Florida/Sun Sports -37.5% (3.67)
Houston FS Houston -40.3% (1.51)
San Diego Cox/SD 4 -41.4% (3.15)
Top 5
Team RSN 2011 No. of households (Change^)
New York Yankees YES 319,000 (-5.3%)
Philadelphia CSN 276,000 (+16.0%)
Boston NESN 192,000 (+34.3%)
New York Mets SportsNet NY 163,000 (-19.3%)
San Francisco CSN Bay Area 127,000 (+23.3%)
Bottom 6    
Houston FS Houston 33,000 (-38.9%)
Kansas City FS Kansas City 33,000 (+37.5%)
Florida FS Florida 32,000 (-25.6%)
Baltimore MASN/MASN2 31,000 (-6.1%)
Oakland CSN California 31,000 (+3.3%)
Washington MASN/MASN2 29,000 (-3.3%)
Top 5
Team RSN Change^ (2011 No. of HOUSEHOLDs)
Cleveland SportsTime Ohio +50,000 (96,000)
Boston NESN +49,000 (192,000)
Philadelphia CSN +38,000 (276,000)
Milwaukee FS Wisconsin +27,000 (72,000)
San Francisco CSN Bay Area +24,000 (127,000)
Bottom 6    
Atlanta SportSouth -24,000 (74,000)
San Diego Cox/SD 4 -24,000 (34,000)
Los Angeles Dodgers FS Prime Ticket -27,000 (65,000)
New York Mets SportsNet NY -39,000 (163,000)
Tampa Bay FS Florida/Sun Sports -40,000 (66,000)
Minnesota FS North -43,000 (109,000)

* Season-end 2011 figures for Philadelphia and St. Louis; through Sept. 22 for all other clubs.
^ Compared to 2010
Notes: Comparable data was not available for the Toronto Blue Jays. Teams with identical marks are listed alphabetically.
Compiled by John Ourand and David Broughton
Source: Nielsen

Another good story locally in 2011 occurred in Cleveland, where the Indians more than doubled their ratings from last year. With a week left in the regular season, Indians games on SportsTime Ohio were up 109 percent from last year.

But overall, local RSN ratings took a hit this year, with 17 of 29 teams (59 percent) showing a lower rating this year compared with last year. Local TV numbers for the Toronto Blue Jays are not available.

The bottom end of MLB’s local ratings were dominated by two underperforming markets. The once-proud Los Angeles market is home to the two lowest local ratings, for the Dodgers and Angels, and the Tampa market continued to be a thorn in MLB’s side, as the Rays showed a 37 percent decrease in local ratings with a week left in the regular season — despite a frantic September that saw the team claim a wild card spot on the season’s final day.

The biggest drop-off came in San Diego, where Padres games were down 41 percent in their last season on Cox. Not surprisingly, the Astros, who had the league’s worst record, saw a ratings drop of 40 percent for the team’s second-to-last season on FS Houston.

Nationally, Fox reported a 1.8 final rating for its package of Saturday games, flat with the past three years. ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball” registered a slight increase, posting a 1.5 U.S. household rating (excluding ESPN2 games) compared with last year’s 1.4 rating. Turner’s ratings were flat, averaging a 0.4 U.S. household rating. TBS’s 26 Sunday afternoon telecasts are blacked out in the home market.