National television ratings for the first half of the 2008 MLB season are down double-digits for all three partners (ESPN, FOX, and TBS), but publicly none of them are complaining to date as they see the second half of the season as a better mix of games for ratings purposes.
What does that mean?
Your diet of MLB games just got more of the Red Sox and Yankees.
As reported by the Sports Business Journal:
So far this season, Fox’s ratings are down 16 percent, from a 2.5 to a 2.1, and ESPN’s ratings are down 13 percent, from a coverage area rating of 1.6 to a 1.4. And Turner, which is in the first year of its national Sunday afternoon package, has seen anemic numbers, with a coverage area rating of 0.5 that’s 30 percent off of last year’s slate of Braves games, which posted a 0.7 year to date.
Network executives say the lack of Yankees-Red Sox games so far this year have depressed the numbers.
“It comes down to scheduling quirks,” said Bill Wanger, Fox Sports’ senior vice president of research and programming.
As for those Red Sox/Yankees tilts, the SBJ reports that there were three of them by this time last year, as compared to only one this year, on FOX. ESPN had seven Red Sox/Yankees, or Mets/Yankees last season compared to only two in 2008. As John Ourand reports, factor the disparity in those teams being televised in and ratings would actually be slightly up. TBS is in their first full year of regular season games.
Who’s seeing the highest ratings at the local level? The Cubs on CSN Chicago (51%), the surprising Rays on FSN Florida (31%), and Braves on FSN South (23%).
The biggest decreases since this time last year? The Mariners on FSNW (47%), Nationals on MASN (43%), and Padres on Cox/SD4 (31%)