A look into all of the local ratings for 2008 (courtesy Sports Business Journal) shows some interesting market characteristics.
Here in the Bay Area the Giants took a big dump, as was expected with their first post-Bonds lineup. The A's, who came off a disappointing 2007 season and went into full rebuilding mode, didn't show a significant ratings drop and generally held onto their audience. That's good news, as it indicates there may be a baseline from which the A's TV audience can be built - especially on a different network that features them more prominently.
The table also shows which markets are "baseball towns" as opposed to "football towns." Midwestern markets with the exception of the two Ohio teams and Kansas City pulled in ratings of 6 or 7. Three of the four AL West teams don't do great within their own markets, whereas Seattle holds up fairly well. And the combined Washington-Baltimore market is absolutely pitiful. MLB and the O's have to be looking long term with MASN, because they're severely overpaying the Nats for TV rights.
Going back to the baseline, the A's respective numbers (1.7 rating/42,000 households) set a bar that other cities would have to significantly clear in order to attract the A's. Let's see how these numbers hold up against three would-be out-of-state candidates. First, a comparison of the Bay Area to the three candidates in terms of Nielsen market size:
- Bay Area (#6 in nation): 2,476,450 households
- Sacramento (#20): 1,399,520
- Portland (#23): 1,175,100
- Las Vegas (#42): 728,410
- Sacramento: 3.0
- Portland: 3.6
- Las Vegas: 5.8
This is a good sign for the A's as we await an announcement about their television future. I don't expect the A's to surpass the Giants anytime soon. The Giants are sinking back to earth after repeatedly doubling the A's ratings in their Bonds period. If the A's ratings can consistently stay above 2 (or roughly 50,000 households), they'll be in pretty good shape for the foreseeable future, even with the economic crisis we are currently muddling through.