MLB viewership at the local level was a highlight of the 2023 season.
While national viewership largely disappointed, local viewership mostly shattered expectations. 17 teams were up in 2023, one was flat, and 11 were down. Data for the Toronto Blue Jays, whose games are available across Canada, was not available.
Per the Sports Business Journal, nine teams saw their local viewership increase by at least 25% in 2023. Of those nine, six made the playoffs and two were only eliminated from the playoff race in the final week of the season.
The league’s biggest increase came from the Texas Rangers on Bally Sports Southwest, whose local rating nearly doubled (a 99% increase) to 1.41, up from 0.71 a year ago. The Pittsburgh Pirates, who again missed the playoffs en route to an 86-loss season, were up 72% on AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh to a 4.21 local rating. The surprising AL East champion Baltimore Orioles surged 65% on MASN up to a 4.23 rating, while the Cincinnati Reds were also up 65% to a 4.74 on Bally Sports Ohio. The Cubs and Twins were both up 34% (to a 2.16 and a 3.31 local rating, respectively), while the Phillies increased 30% to a 5.49 local rating on NBC Sports Philadelphia.
That local rating for the Phillies was the highest across MLB. The St. Louis Cardinals, the long-time local rating leader across MLB, slipped 27% (third-highest decline over the league) to 5.30 on Bally Sports Midwest, still the second-best local rating across the league. The Milwaukee Brewers were up 12% on Bally Sports Wisconsin to 5.19, the third-best local rating in MLB. The aforementioned Reds and Orioles finished fourth and fifth in local viewership across the league.
Five teams were down at least 25% in 2023. The Chicago White Sox led the way, with the local rating on NBC Sports Chicago falling 41% to 0.99. The Kansas City Royals took the league’s second-largest hit, slipping 30% to 2.60. Both the Cardinals and Mets declined 27%, with New York’s drop on SNY landing them at 1.73 in the market. The Yankees provided another decline in the New York market, falling by 25% to 2.23.
Six teams posted a local rating under 1.0. The White Sox were just under the mark at 0.99, followed by the Angels and Rockies at 0.90 each. Both teams were up single digits in 2023. Despite a bad year, the Nationals were also up single digits, but still finished the year with a 0.85 local mark on MASN. The Marlins were up 14% to 0.75, the second-lowest mark in baseball. Finally, there are the Oakland Athletics, who were down 23% to a league-worst 0.36 on NBC Sports California.
Signs were positive for both the Diamondbacks and Padres, whose rights were taken over by MLB during the year. Diamondbacks viewership was up an impressive 25% to 1.25, while Padres viewership slid just 7% despite an uneven year to 4.13.