The Los Angeles Rams go into the NFL’s Week 12 action with a 4-6 record, seemingly on their way to the 7-9 record that head coach Jeff Fisher told his players during training camp he intended to avoid. That mediocrity during the team’s first season back in Los Angeles after relocating from St. Louis apparently has prevented local fans from embracing the Rams, at least on television.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch‘s Dan Caesar, telecasts of Rams games in Los Angeles have finished behind those involving other NFL teams during the past two weeks. That rarely happened when the Rams were in St. Louis, regardless of how well the team was performing on the field. This past Sunday, the Rams’ Week 11 game against the Miami Dolphins drew an 8.7 rating (meaning 8.7 percent of homes in the L.A. market were tuned in). That mark was less than the 9.9 rating for the Redskins-Packers game, in addition to the Cowboys-Ravens tilt.
The prior Sunday, during Week 10, the Rams game versus the New York Jets drew a 9.1 rating. Yes, that was higher than the next week’s rating, But it trailed the 12.7 mark that the Seahawks-Patriots game earned, as well as the Cowboys-Steelers clash, both of which were played later that Sunday afternoon.
Overall, as Caesar points out, the Rams are averaging a 9.5 rating in the Los Angeles market this season. (Take away the Week 7 game that the Rams played in London, which resulted in a 6:30 a.m. local kickoff, and the rating only moves up to 10.0.) That’s worse than any individual Rams game drew in St. Louis during the 21 seasons the team played in that market.
Sure, there’s some sour grapes in that report. St. Louis is still sore about the Rams leaving. However, what’s curious is that Rams games still earn a 7.2 rating in St. Louis, despite the team moving to Los Angeles. Some fans are sticking with their Rams, apparently, even though their city was spurned for a larger market and bigger money. (Even during their final season in St. Louis, the Rams drew an 18.3 local rating.) That’s more loyalty than some of the Rams’ new fans in L.A. are displaying.
Are L.A. fans just waiting for the Rams to show success on the field before embracing their local NFL team again? Or are fans simply accustomed to watching other teams on Sunday, as had been the past for the past 22 years? (Or could it also be that so many L.A. residents are transplants with ties to their hometown teams?) The sentiment among L.A. fans often seemed to be that they preferred not having a local team because that opened up their TV market to often showing the best national telecast. Best of all, L.A. fans weren’t subject to local blackouts.
Getting a team to call their own again apparently hasn’t gotten local fans to change their NFL habits just yet. Especially when there are other big national games involving the NFL’s top teams like the Cowboys, Patriots, Seahawks and Steelers to be watched. The Rams evidently still need to make a strong impression with fans. Just being a NFL team in the local market isn’t enough to draw interest on local TV yet.