But of course my little essay, and the dozens of others like it, won’t ever stop the worrying Willies and Wilmas from looking at the NFL’s television ratings, and at LeBron James, and at the burgeoning Major League Soccer, and predicting some impending doom. Just as the ever-prescient Howard Cosell predicted nearly 50 years ago.
According to the information from Nielsen, of the 29 U.S.-based clubs in the league, 12 of them are the #1-rated programming in prime time since the start of the season in their home markets, beating both broadcast and cable competition. These teams include the Detroit Tigers, St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Milwaukee Brewers, Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals, Seattle Mariners, Boston Red Sox, San Francisco Giants, and Arizona Diamondbacks.
Another 7 teams rank in the top three in local prime time TV ratings on their respective RSNs, including the Tampa Bay Rays, Minnesota Twins, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Yankees, Atlanta Braves, San Diego Padres, and Denver Rockies.
The teams that aren’t faring quite so well tend to be a) not at all good this season, or b) involved in serious carriage disputes with local cable providers. In other words, if you’ve got a decent team and people can watch, they will watch.
Sounds like a pretty good business model, don’t you think?