In sum, according to Brown, Major League Baseball did very well on television.
Overall, 17 MLB teams—over half the league—rank in the top 3 in local prime time (7p-11p) TV ratings on their respective RSNs.
As of August, the Rays broadcast was second in the Tampa Bay area with a rating of 4.32 and was seen by an average of 79,000 households per night. For the season, the Rays ended second in the market with a rating of 4.01 and an average of 73,000 households watching per night.
Doing a little math, we can see the Rays ratings dropped 21.5% during the end of the season.
Brown’s initial ratings post in August looked at ratings from March 31 to July 24. As of July 24, the Rays had played 102 games. 97 of those games were televised on Sun Sports. In total, that means 7,663,000 people watched Rays baseball on Sun Sports through July 24.
Through 150 broadcasts, Sun Sports averaged 73,000 households. That means a total of 10,950,000 households watched the Rays throughout 2014. If we subtract the 7.66 million of the first 102 games, we see 3,287,000 total households watched the Rays on Sun Sports from July 25 to Sept 28, the Rays final Sun Sports broadcast.
That means an average of 62,019 households per game watched the Rays final 53 games, 17,000 less households per game than watched their first 97 games.
97 broadcasts x 79,000 avg households = 7,663,000
150 broadcasts x 73,000 avg households = 10,950,000
3,287,000 total households divided by 53 games = 62,019 avg households
There are many reasons why the Rays saw less viewers over their last 53 games. First and foremost, was the Rays lack of contention. On July 23rd, the Rays were two games under .500, despite winning 8 in a row. They would win their 9th in a row, but would not reach .500 until August 15th. By then, their playoff odds were diminishing daily.
Also, a week after July 23rd, the Rays traded David Price to the Detroit Tigers. While Drew Smyly pitched well for the Rays, we can safely assume he does not have the allure of Price, one of the Rays most popular players, their only 2014 all-star, and only Cy Young award winner. Fair or not, many fans may have tuned out the Rays after they moved Price, although to the organization’s credit, attendance at Tropicana Field was higher after Price’s trade.
Despite their drop, the Rays Sun Sports broadcast remained 13th in MLB in television ratings. In August, they were the only broadcast of the 28 measured teams second in their local market (12 teams were 1st, 15 were 3rd or lower). By the end of the season, the Rays Sun Sports broadcast remained the second most watched prime time show in Tampa Bay, although the Cincinnati Reds regional broadcast dropped from first in its market to second, joining the Rays broadcast in that distinction (11 were first, 15 were 3rd or lower).
According to Brown’s research, while Sun Sports Rays broadcasts were the number two rated show in prime time in the Tampa Bay market, the local CBS affiliate (WTSP) was number one. Coincidentally, CBS was also number one in Cincinnati, Minneapolis, and San Diego.
Whatever was on CBS in those cities at that time must have been good.
So, yes, Sun Sports is correct when it tweeted it was “number one among all cable networks in primetime (7pm-11pm) in the #Tampa market“.
As Obi-Wan Kenobi once said, “you’re going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.”