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Volume 21 No. 31
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Royals on a roll with local television ratings

The surging popularity of the Kansas City Royals has been a dominant storyline so far this MLB season, from the number of All-Star votes received by the team’s players to, now, the club’s ratings on local TV.

MLB teams' RSN Ratings

AVERAGE RATING

TOP 5

Team RSN Avg. rating (change*)
Kansas City Royals FS Kansas City 12.06 (+119%)
St. Louis Cardinals FS Midwest 9.25 (+23%)
Detroit Tigers FS Detroit 7.22 (-4%)
Pittsburgh Pirates Root Sports Pittsburgh 7.01 (+11%)
Baltimore Orioles MASN 5.67 (0%)

BOTTOM 5

Team RSN Avg. rating (change*)
Houston Astros Southwest** 1.70 (+347%)
Los Angeles Angels FS West 1.34 (-6%)
Oakland A's CSN California 1.09 (-17%)
Chicago White Sox CSN Chicago 0.82 (-43%)
Los Angeles Dodgers SportsNet LA 0.75 (-1%)

AVERAGE RATING CHANGE

TOP 5

Team RSN Change* (avg. rating)
Houston Astros Root Sports Southwest** +347% (1.70)
Kansas City Royals FS Kansas City +119% (12.06)
Chicago Cubs CSN Chicago +100% (2.92)
San Diego Padres FS San Diego +56% (4.59)
Washington Nationals MASN +41% (2.69)

BOTTOM 5

Team RSN Change* (avg. rating)
Colorado Rockies Root Sports Rocky Mountain -18% (2.43)
Milwaukee Brewers FS Wisconsin -27% (4.32)
Cleveland Indians SportsTime Ohio -30% (4.21)
Atlanta Braves FS South/SportSouth -32% (2.03)
Chicago White Sox CSN Chicago -43% (0.82)

* Change compared with midseason 2014 data.
Note: Similar data was unavailable for the Toronto Blue Jays.
** Astros' games aired on CSN Houston in 2014.
Source: SportsBusiness Journal analysis of Nielsen data


The Royals are on pace to post MLB’s highest RSN rating leaguewide for the first time, averaging a massive 12.06 rating for games on FS Kansas City heading into the All-Star break. If that rating holds for the remainder of the season, it would be MLB’s highest local rating for a team since 2007, when the Boston Red Sox averaged a 12.08 rating at midseason and a 12.20 for a year that saw them win their second World Series in four years.

The 12.06 rating also more than doubles the Royals’ rating at the same point last season and translates to 111,000 homes (sixth-highest in MLB this year) for the 2014 World Series runners-up.

MLB’s other Missouri team, the St. Louis Cardinals, have the league’s second-highest rating, with a 9.25 average.

“Fans have latched on to these teams, and the results are telecasts that dominate local TV viewing night in and night out,” said Jack Donovan, general manager and senior vice president for Fox Sports Midwest and Fox Sports Kansas City.

SportsBusiness Journal reviewed data from all 29 U.S.-based MLB teams. Overall, 13 of the clubs showed local ratings increases from last season, 14 showed decreases and two were flat.

Another one of the feel-good stories this year is in Houston, where Astros games are up more than fourfold from last season, when games were on CSN Houston and had little distribution in the market. This year’s first-place Astros are averaging a 1.7 rating (39,000 homes) on Root Sports Southwest.

Baseball is also taking hold in the nation’s capital, where Washington Nationals games on MASN are up 41 percent, averaging a 2.69 rating (65,000 homes).

“The strong Nationals ratings growth is also supported across most key demos,” said John McGuinness, MASN senior vice president and general sales manager.

Among the relevant demos, McGuinness cited ratings that showed increases among men 18-34 (up 17 percent) and adults 18-49 (up 32 percent).

Los Angeles Dodgers games on SportsNet LA are at the bottom of the ratings list, with continuing limited distribution for the channel, but there is a flicker of hope in the team’s TV story. Since Charter Communications added the RSN on June 9, Dodgers games have averaged a 1.15 rating. The team’s June 23 game against the Chicago Cubs pulled in a 1.57 rating, tops for the team on the network to date.