National television ratings for the 2008 Major League Baseball regular season saw ratings down for FOX, ESPN, and TBS, with declines posted at the regional level, as well, according to the Sports Business Journal:
Fox’s MLB ratings dropped 13 percent to a 2.0, and its viewership dropped 12.5 percent to average 2.9 million viewers for its Saturday afternoon package.To add to the decline at the national level, 19 regional sports networks (RSNs) posted drops with 15 posting losses in the double-digits.
ESPN pulled a cable rating of 1.4, a 7 percent drop, with 1.693 million viewers. Last year, ESPN’s MLB telecasts pulled 1.775 million viewers. And TBS posted a 0.5 cable rating in its first full season of Sunday afternoon MLB games, averaging 624,000 viewers. That represents a drop of nearly 30 percent from last year’s 0.6 cable rating, or 897,000 viewers, which was the network’s final year televising Atlanta Braves’ Sunday afternoon games exclusively after 30 seasons.
On the flip side, 11 RSNs posted ratings gains with six showing increases in the double-digits.
Here are noteworthy numbers:
- FSN Florida and the Tampa Bay Rays saw a nearly 100 percent increase in ratings from last year (99%)
- The White Sox saw a 7 percent decline in paid attendance this season, but saw a 67 percent increase in viewership on CSN Chicago (a 1.31 to 2.19 rating).
- In terms of total number of households watching games, the usual suspects saw high numbers with the Yankees (312,000 avg. HH), Red Sox (242,000 avg. HH), and Mets (239,000 avg. HH) leading the charge.
- In the losses bracket, the Washington Nationals came in at a staggering 51 percent below last season or only 8,000 average households. To place that in perspective, the second lowest watched team was the Royals at 26,000 average households -- a 31 percent increase over the Nationals.
- In another bad sign for Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN), the Baltimore Orioles posted 29,000 avg. HH, or third lowest in the league.
- The combined 37,000 homes that watched both the Orioles and Nationals games on MASN in the Baltimore-Washington market beat only Pittsburgh (32,000) and Kansas City (26,000).
Other decliners included the Mariners (31% drop in ratings from last season) and Padres (40 percent drop in ratings from last season).
The most surprising ratings news? Probably the Florida Marlins which were up 21 percent on Sun Sports and 16 percent on FSN Florida.
Do the figures signal doom and gloom for those broadcasting MLB games? Not necessarily.
“The relationships fans have with their teams don’t go away,” said Ray Warren, Comcast SportsNet’s executive vice president and chief revenue officer. “Even a bad year is a better year than a lot of other cable networks have.”