Thurm: Midseason local TV ratings and measuring fan engagement

From SABR member Wendy Thurm at FanGraphs on July 17, 2014:

Sports Business Journal published an article on Monday sounding the alarm about the Los Angeles Dodgers’ plummeting local TV ratings. Last season, the Dodgers averaged 226,000 households per game telecast. This season, the average is 40,000 households.

Of course the Dodgers’ ratings have plummeted. The team’s new regional sports network — SportsNetLA — isn’t available to fans who don’t subscribe to Time Warner Cable, because the network has been unable to reach distribution deals with the other cable and satellite companies like DirecTV and DISH. Only 30% of households in Los Angeles have Time Warner Cable and, thus, access to SportsNetLA. But the Dodgers lead the majors in attendance with 2,277,891 tickets sold through 49 home games, for an average of 46,487 per game.

The Houston Astros have the same ratings problem but without the benefit of a full ballpark every night. Their joint regional sports network with the Houston Rockets — Comcast SportsNet Houston — isn’t carried by any cable or satellite company other than Comcast. The situation is so dire that Comcast forced the RSN into bankruptcy last year. The dispute has now spawned additional litigation in state and federal court.

That being said, only a handful of teams have seen their average game viewership rise in the first half of the season when compared to the average game viewership for the entirety of 2013. The Yankees’ have seen the biggest bump — likely the result of Derek Jeter‘s retirement tour and the addition of Masahiro Tanaka. But the Mets, Angels, White Sox, Indians, Athletics and Padres have also seen jumps in their ratings.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: July 18, 2014. Last Updated: July 18, 2014.