July 7, 2008

CDC Celebrates - Nats' Fever Eradicated

Really, Washington, you don't have to honor the Expos' legacy this much...

According to the SportsBusiness Journal (as reported by DCRTV.com), television ratings for the Nats on MASN and MASN2 are down 43.5% since last year, drawing only a 0.39 share of television viewing (despite now being available on all cable providers). This is the lowest in Major League Baseball ("by a lot" according to the Post's Dan Steinberg), and means that an average of only 9,000 households are watching the Nats.

Steinberg puts the problem in perspective. Boston, St. Louis and Minnesota enjoy 9.75, 8.04 and 6.92 shares respectively. The worst ratings, other than the Nats, are in L.A. (understandably) with the Angels at 1.24 and the Dodgers at 1.57 and in Dallas (1.49). The "average household" numbers are more staggering, with the Nats at 9,000 looking way up at small market teams like the Royals (28,000), Orioles (33,000) and Pirates (34,000).

Steinberg is also privy to the Post's web numbers on Nats-based traffic, but he cannot divulge them. He only says that the traffic is "very disappointing".

That's not a good sign that the Nats are building a fan base. To make matters worse, attendance figures are still middling, defusing the excuse that people would rather watch the game in person than on television. As of tonight the Nats are averaging 29,754 tickets sold per game in the inaugural season at Nationals Park (naming rights dropping in price daily!), corresponding to 72.5% of stated capacity.

There are two arguments I've made on this blog that have been ridiculed. The first arose when the Orioles were beaten by the Texas Rangers by the score of 30-3 last August. I argued that at least the humiliating defeat made the Orioles relevant, and that the Nats couldn't buy a headline. Watch SportsCenter and tell me how many Nats highlights you see, and you'll start to see it my way. The second argument was that the Nats wouldn't last a decade in Washington. I'm still sticking by that one.

Overall, I think Steinberg sums it up best: "Why do we have a baseball team?" Read the following to see our thoughts on the same question.

2 Responses:

Press Row said...

But you know what's sad? The Marlins are playoff quality every couple of years and people still ask why Miami has a baseball team. I think it's becoming reasonable to ask this question of about 10 cities in the MLB.

J-Red said...

I totally agree. I thought about adding that aspect to the post. Everyone in the Nats front office is repeating the "they'll come when the team wins" mantra. That's just not always true, especially in cities where there are so many other things to do.

Miami is a good example. Tampa's attendance is up, but not as much as you might expect. Baltimore was expected to be horrible this year, and attendance is only up slightly despite the fact they do well at home and are just above .500.

The fact is there are only so many baseball crazy towns in this country (Boston, New York, Chicago, St. Louis, Minnesota (based on TV numbers)).

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