John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

The All-Star Break is the de facto midseason break for Major League Baseball, and many writers (myself included) use it as an opportunity to look back at the first half of the season. One of those writers that also does that is John Ourand of Sports Business Journal, who took a look at some interesting stats regarding MLB’s local ratings from the first half of baseball. Looking at Ourand’s work, one thought immediately comes to my mind – the midwest sure does love their baseball.

Of the five highest average local ratings in the league, all five are in the Central division – four from the National League, and one from the American League. The Detroit Tigers continue to lead the way, averaging a 7.52 rating and 140,000 viewers per game – the best and second-best marks in all of baseball. Despite retaining their position at the top of the league, the Tigers have seen their local ratings drop by 17% and 27,000 viewers this season. The Cardinals rank second with a 7.45 rating on Fox Sports Midwest (8% drop), while the Pirates are third on Root Sports (6.37 rating, 2% rise), the Reds are fourth on Fox Sports Ohio (6.37 rating, 19% drop), and the Brewers are fifth thanks to their 5.91 rating on Fox Sports Wisconsin, a 32% rise from the 2013 midseason break.

On the other side of the coin, the Houston Astros continue to bring up the rear with a 0.39 average rating an 9,000 viewers thanks to the never-ending dispute between CSN Houston and local providers. Somewhat surprisingly, the Dodgers have the second-lowest rating in the league at just 0.70 as the war between SportsNet LA and Los Angeles providers continues to wage on. The Dodgers also average just 40,000 viewers per game, the fifth-lowest mark in the game. No team has seen their local ratings drop more than the Dodgers and their massive 70% fall. The A’s, White Sox, and Angels follow those two clubs in low local ratings, though all three play in large markets and have seen their ratings rise from the midseason point of the 2013 season. The White Sox and Angels are in the top five for local ratings increases this year, and the Angels’ average audience increase is third-highest in the league.

The first place Brewers are one of the big winners at the All-Star Break in terms of local ratings. In addition to their top five rating of 5.91, the Brewers have increased their rating by 32% so far this year, the second-highest mark in the league behind (surprisingly) the Miami Marlins, whose 27,000 average viewers per game are better than just the Astros. The Brewers have also increased their average viewer total by 14,000 viewers per game, the second-highest jump in baseball behind the Yankees.

Speaking of the Yankees, they stopped the bleeding this year following several seasons of dropping ratings. The Yankees are averaging a healthy 228,000 viewers per game, far and away the highest mark in baseball. In fact, only three clubs (the Tigers, Mets, and Red Sox) average even half as many viewers as the Bronx Bombers. The Yankees also have increased their rating by 22% this year, the third-highest increase in baseball, and the resulting 43,000 viewer increase dwarfs that of all other teams.

Aside from the Dodgers, another big loser at the midseason point is the Texas Rangers, who have the worst record in baseball amid a plethora of injuries. On Fox Sports Southwest this year, Rangers ratings are down a whopping 44% this year, and they’ve lost an average of 52,000 viewers per game. Only the Dodgers have seen their ratings fall further, and no team has seen their average viewer total drop by more than the Rangers. Two more big losers are in a pennant race: the Braves have lost an average of 28,000 viewers on SportSouth this year, 5,000 viewers on Fox Sports South, and have seen their average rating fall by 32% on SportSouth and 27% on Fox Sports South. The Washington Nationals have also experienced a drop on MASN, losing 21,000 viewers per game and seeing their ratings fall by 34%. Both marks for the Braves and Nationals are among the bottom five in baseball this year.

What have we learned from all of this? Well, the Yankees’ brand is strong, and the bleeding has stopped. The Dodgers and Astros have been crippled by their carriage disputes. The Rangers are free falling, and their final ratings and viewership numbers at the end of the season could be ghastly. And as I said in the title of this most, the midwest is thriving, unless you’re a Cubs or Twins fan.

[Sports Business Journal]

About Joe Lucia

I hate your favorite team. I also sort of hate most of my favorite teams.

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