MLB rules prime time, even with flat regional sports network viewership year after year

Regional sports network ratings are flat during the All-Star break. But given the loss of subscriptions to linear television and the league’s large number of games and most of them winning primetime, Major League Baseball remains a popular property.

Year-over-year (YOY) numbers show that household impressions (HH) (IMP) are very close to where they were during last year’s All-Star break. Overall, the league is down -0.38% or flat when rounded. Thirteen of the 29 show gains compared to 2021, while 15 are down. In an extraordinary sign of consistency, the Pittsburgh Pirates are seeing exactly the same viewership numbers on AT&T
Pittsburgh like last year. Nielsen does not track the Toronto Blue Jays numbers because they are in Canada.

Baseball continues to be in high demand by advertisers given its large inventory of games and the near-daily pace at which products can be featured in ads.

“Our advertising revenue continues to grow over the past five years at a double-digit CAGR (compound annual growth rate),” said Craig Sloan, COO of Playfly Sports, the company that watches Home Team Sports, a company that covers a portfolio of advertisers. to many of the RSNs, as a subsidiary. “These are double-digit increases year over year.”

As Sloan points out, baseball sees extremely consistent numbers based on fan loyalty. The household impression numbers prove this, as many gainers are seen lagging in the rankings. The Texas Rangers lead the way with the biggest win. Rangers see +42% increase year over year. They are followed by the Los Angeles Angels and the Seattle Mariners (+33%), the St. Louis Cardinals (+30%) and the Philadelphia Phillies (+25%).

Perhaps the biggest factor in MLB’s popularity with advertisers is how well it dominates prime time against broadcast and cable competition. Eleven of the 29 #1 ranks in their designated market area (Yankees, Phillies, Dodgers, Astros, Cardinals, Giants, Mariners, Rangers, Padres, Brewers, Royals) and five #2 ranks (Braves, Tigers, Twins, Rays, Reds, and three ranked #3 (Mets, Red Sox, Orioles).

With a scorching record in the standings, YES Network’s New York Yankees are watching records break. Up 13% in HH impressions from this point last year, they have 22,597,400 in All-Star. In terms of total audience, which represents people instead of households, through July 12, 19 of YES’ 70 regular season games in 2022 have exceeded 400,000 total viewers in the designated market area (DMA) of New York. All of last season, YES had 9 Yankees regular season games (in 128 games total). Yankees games on YES Network are averaging 347,000 total viewers in the New York DMA, up 22% from the MLB All-Star Break last year. YES shows are on pace to have their second best season to date in a decade, since 2012.

And it’s not just the Yankees who are seeing big numbers. With New York’s DMA the largest in the country and the team also winning, the New York Mets are seeing total household impressions of 15,837,500 year over year, up 12% year over year past the All-Star.

Not all clubs are doing well; some so understandably. With the Oakland A’s jettisoning key talent and sinking in the standings, they represent the biggest year-over-year decline (-46%). And it’s not just the A’s in the Bay Area that are down significantly. The San Francisco Giants fall -35%. They are followed by a -30% drop from the Cleveland Guardians and a -29% drop from the Cincinnati Reds.

Other highlights…

  • The 2021 World Series champion Atlanta Braves just missed the top 5 in the top year-over-year gains for domestic impressions with a 23% increase (7,200,300 HH IMP compared to 5,848,500 in 2021 at the All- Star of 2021).
  • One of the most exciting teams in baseball in recent years may be suffering from a bit of apathy. The San Diego Padres are seeing a 21% decrease in home impressions compared to this time last year (5,044,800 compared to 6,346,100 in 2021).
  • The Los Angeles Dodgers are down 15%, but still crushing it due to the massive size of the LA DMA (HH IMP of 11,817,600).
  • The Chicago Cubs moved to their own regional sports network just as the pandemic hit in 2020. Performance on the field in 2022 hasn’t helped it gain traction. Marquee Sports is down 25% in household impressions year over year (6,368,900 compared to 8,475,000 at this time last year).
  • The only team that could give the New York Yankees trouble before the World Series is the Houston Astros, and they continue to be strong on AT&T SportNet Southwest. The Astros are up +8% over last year at the All-Star break in household impressions (10,551,600 compared to 9,783,500 year-over-year).
  • The Boston Red Sox are currently in last place in the AL East, and the issues have affected the performance of their games on NESN. While not down as much as the Cubs, the Red Sox are -12% for HH IMP year over year.
  • there is hope City of charm. After years of poor showings in the standings, the Baltimore Orioles look promising, with a chance to clinch a Wild Card spot. This translates into the number of homes watching games on MASN. The Orioles are up 6% from this point last year (2,422,000 home impressions vs. 2,291,100 from last year’s All-Star Game).
  • If you compare HH impressions from the end of the 2021 season to HH IMP from the first half of the 2022 season, the league is up almost 2% with 16 of 29 on the positive side.

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