FOX Sports and Nielsen Study, “The 5th Network,” Finds Regional Sports Networks Are Most Essential Cable Channels to Sports Fans

LOS ANGELES – FOX Sports today released the results of “The 5th Network: Regional Sports Network Passion Index,” a Nielsen Media Analytics Primary Research study finding that sports fans rate regional sports networks (RSNs) as their most essential non-broadcast channels.

Custom research by Nielsen commissioned by FOX Sports looked at more than 1,500 pay TV subscribers around the country who identify as sports fans, and found that on average respondents rate their RSNs as the fifth most essential channel in their entire television packages, ranking only behind the four broadcast networks. Respondents ranked RSNs as more essential than all cable channels. In certain geographical regions, sports fans ranked their RSNs as the most essential networks. In St. Louis, which receives FOX Sports Midwest, viewers rated their local RSN as more essential than any other channel, including the broadcast networks. In Detroit, home of FOX Sports Detroit, viewers rank their RSN as the second most essential network.

FOX Sports Regional Networks President Jeff Krolik said: “We have long known that our RSNs are akin to the fifth broadcast network in their markets in terms of ratings, and Nielsen’s research confirms the remarkable importance of these networks to viewers. Local sports are tribal, and RSNs inspire the same loyalty and connection as the hometown teams they bring to fans.”

Findings from Nielsen’s research are supported by the ratings received by RSNs across
the country. During the recently-concluded Major League Baseball season, 23 of the 29
U.S.-based MLB teams ranked in the top five of all networks when they played in
primetime on their RSNs, and nine of those teams ranked one in all of primetime in their markets.