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Volume 21 No. 30
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Multiple story lines help lift Tigers to top of local TV ratings list

Buoyed by a tight race in the AL Central, plus Miguel Cabrera’s run for baseball’s first Triple Crown since 1967, the Detroit Tigers are poised to win Major League Baseball’s local TV ratings crown this season.

The average rating for Tigers' games on FS Detroit were on pace to be the highest in team history.
With about 1 1/2 weeks left in the regular season, Tigers games on FS Detroit were on pace to be the highest in team history. Games have averaged a 9.13 rating so far this season, a massive 42 percent increase from last season. The 168,000 average homes that tune into Tigers games is the third-highest audience in MLB.

“A lot of great story lines have captured the attention of Tigers fans this season, and it’s reflected in the ratings,” said Greg Hammaren, senior vice president and general manager of Fox Sports Detroit.

Another strong story was in Cincinnati, where Reds games on FS Ohio are on pace to finish second in overall ratings. Its 8.64 average rating is, by far, the team’s highest local TV rating since at least the mid-1990s and shows renewed interest in a franchise that is set to make the playoffs for only the second time since 1995.

The Reds are followed by the Cardinals on FS Midwest (7.68) and Pirates on Root Pittsburgh (6.52).

Those ratings come as MLB teams have seen their local TV ratings drop 6 percent overall so far this season.

On the lower end of the league, the Astros’ 1.02 rating is on pace to become MLB’s lowest local TV rating since 2008, when the Nationals registered a 0.61 rating. The team, which has lost more than 100 games during its final season on FS Houston, has averaged only 22,000 households per game, a 33 percent drop from last season.

Despite the Yankees' being in a pennant race, their games are on pace to be the lowest rated on YES Network in 10 seasons. If ratings don’t increase in the season’s last week, the team’s 3.87 rating will mark the first time Yankee ratings have fallen below a 4.0 since 2003. This year’s ratings are down 17.5 percent from the Yankees’ high of 4.69 in 2007.

The surprising Orioles and Nationals have lifted MASN’s ratings in the Baltimore-Washington corridor. Ratings for Nats games have risen higher than any other team, up 74 percent to average a 2.54. The Nats have clinched the first playoff spot in Washington, D.C., since 1933. Orioles games are up 42 percent, which is the league’s fourth-highest increase. The O’s are guaranteed their first winning season since 1997. The Dodgers (up 70 percent), Rangers (up 51 percent) and Tigers (up 42 percent) also posted significant ratings increases this season.

Last year’s ratings champion, the Phillies, saw their ratings drop 39 percent on Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia this season. Their 5.61 rating dropped to seventh on MLB’s local TV ratings list.

“The Phillies continue to provide strong ratings, but are off of their historic highs of the last couple of years,” said Jon Litner, group president of NBC Sports Group. “Ratings are up and down for our regionals. Overall, we have a few home runs and a few double plays.”

Nielsen data represents all 29 U.S.-based teams. Through Sept. 23, Sportsnet drew an average total audience of 552,200 for its Blue Jays broadcasts, marking a 9 percent increase over the 2011 season average audience, according to BBM Canada.