MLB TV Ratings For National Broadcasts Up, But Local TV Uneven


Maury Brown of Forbes recently detailed how ratings for FS1’s MLB broadcasts so far this season have gone up 17 percent as compared to this point last season. The May 18 game between the Kansas City Royals and New York Yankees was the most-watched regular season MLB game on FS1 to date, thanks largely to it being the debut of former player Alex Rodriguez in the booth.

ESPN has seen similar bumps for its Sunday Night Baseball product. Through May 10, the cumulative numbers posted a 15 percent increase in viewership as compared to 2016, and all of ESPN’s national MLB broadcasts were up 21 percent in viewership according to Sports Media Watch.


While the league can celebrate improved MLB TV ratings, the numbers for the local broadcasts are what the 30 individual franchises are most concerned with. Those products have performed at varying levels so far this season.

The reason why the individual teams pay much more attention to their local television ratings is because that’s where the majority of their games are broadcast. Depending on the franchise, a team might only be a part of national broadcasts a few times a year. For teams with less national exposure on ESPN and FS1, over 150 of their 162 regular season games are carried by their local broadcast partner.

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Additionally in MLB, each franchise negotiates its own broadcast rights contract. That fact has enabled MLB teams to take in hundreds of millions, if not billions in the case of the Los Angeles Dodgers, over the lives of the deals. Strong local ratings are necessary to keep broadcasters like local Fox Sports and Root Sports channels paying the premium prices for the content.

The local ratings seem to be part of the season-to-season, or sometimes individual months in one season to the next, ebb and flow of baseball.

Aaron Judge has commanded all to rise for the Yankees, and the team’s own network has benefitted. YES has seen a 41 percent spike in viewership this season as compared to last. Better than expected early returns for the San Diego Padres on the field produced similar results on Fox Sports San Diego, and the Cleveland Indians have enjoyed the bump that comes with winning an American League championship.

A World Series championship bump produced a similar effect for the Cubs early in the season, but diminished returns have came for both the team and CSN Chicago since. The ratings have dropped 16 percent. Now over a full season removed from its second World Series championship and constantly fielding rumors of a fire sale, the ratings for Royals games on FSKC have gone down 39 percent as compared to their championship season of 2015.

It seems that if you can’t win regularly on the field, there is another way to pull ratings. The New York Mets are sitting at 23-28 and 9.5 games out of first place in the National League East division going into play on Thursday. Despite this, SNY reported a 43 percent increase for Mets games through April 21. Drama makes for compelling television.

The local ratings for MLB teams often reflect the performance of the team on the field, which is another reason that franchises make it a top priority to be competitive on a consistent basis. Their ability to land the next big haul in broadcasting rights depends on it.

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Source : https://fansided.com/2017/06/01/mlb-tv-ratings-national-broadcasts-local-tv-uneven/

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