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MLB Game Audience Up On ESPN, Fox Sports, But RSNs On The Whole Down Slightly

MLB Game Audience Up On ESPN, Fox Sports, But RSNs On The Whole Down Slightly

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MLB game viewership is up on ESPN and Fox/FS1, but RSN numbers are down slightly compared to the same period last year. ESPN is averaging 1.04 million viewers for its complete MLB game coverage to date, up 4% from the same period last season. That has been boosted by a 9% viewership uptick for "Sunday Night Baseball" to date. The gains for "SNB" have come despite the national primetime window having zero Yankees-Red Sox games to date. The past few seasons, there have been at least two of those matchups prior to the All-Star break. Meanwhile, FS1 and Fox have combined to average 1.07 million viewers for its game telecasts to date, up 3% from 1.04 million viewers last season at the break. Fox Sports' RSNs are seeing an audience uptick, but overall, MLB games on all RSNs are down around 4%. NBC Sports and AT&T SportsNet RSNs are seeing declines, while some big independent RSNs like NESN are also down. The Royals lead all teams in RSN ratings, averaging a 7.69 local rating in the K.C. market. However, that figure is down a league-high 37% from the same point last season. The Yankees have seen the biggest gain among RSNs, up 54% to date on YES Network (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).

Cubs ratings on CSN Chicago are down
14% after a disappointing first half
CHICAGO HOPES
: In Chicago, Danny Ecker noted Cubs ratings on CSN Chicago are down 14% after an "unexpected and disappointing first half" after winning the World Series last season. The 3.6 local rating over 42 games still is "strong compared with the past several years and makes the Cubs the most-watched team" on the net. However, it is a "surprising dip" for the team, as early season games "faced little competition for attention after both the Blackhawks and Bulls lost in the first round of their playoff series." One bright spot is that 18 June-July broadcasts have "averaged a 4.0 rating compared to the 3.0 rating over 14 games in May." A resurgence during the second half "could draw bigger audiences, but the Cubs at this point are on track to finish with a ratings decrease after two straight years of big jumps." Meanwhile, White Sox games on CSN Chicago are "averaging a 0.8 rating this year" over 57 broadcasts, down 27% from last season's average at the All-Star break. The drop-off is "partly a product of a big bump in viewership at the beginning of last season, when the Sox got off to a 17-8 start before imploding" (CHICAGOBUSINESS.com, 7/12).

RETURN TO NORMALCY? On Long Island, Neil Best noted after "losing the season television ratings battle to SNY for the first time" last season, YES has "bounced back," averaging a 3.56 rating for its Yankees telecasts compared to a 2.86 rating on SNY for Mets games. SNY is "not down by much year over year" -- it averaged a 2.91 at this time in '16 -- but YES is "way up" from the 2.29 it averaged at the '16 All-Star break. YES’ ratings also were "dented last year by a season-long dispute that kept it out of Comcast homes." The net's audience is up 45% compared with '15 and marks the RSNs best figure at this point since '12 (NEWSDAY, 7/12).

RISING TIDES: Indians games are averaging a 7.5 local rating on SportsTime Ohio this year, up 32% from '16. The Indians are "on pace to post their best TV ratings" since '01, when the club averaged a 9.9 local figure (CRAINSCLEVELAND.com, 7/11)....The Braves’ local ratings on FS South and FS Southeast have increased 50%, going from a 1.35 local rating at the All-Star break last year to a 2.0 this year. The improved ratings "follow several years of sharp viewership declines," though there is still a "ways to go to get back to where they were before the team’s teardown/rebuild" (AJC.com, 7/13).

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