Orlando Magic fansYesterday we received some good news when it turned out that despite terrible attendance, TV ratings are not only still strong, but actually growing. But that wasn’t even the most exciting part.

Buried below was this nugget:

“Rays viewership in Orlando is up 29% year-over-year through the same number of games.”

First of all, we need to take the actual number with a little grain of salt. A 29% increase of not very much is still not very much. In other words, we don’t really know how much it has increased unless we have a reference point. But there is still a good reason to be excited.

We often talk about how Major League Baseball is never going to give up on one of the 13 biggest TV markets in the U.S. (and Tampa-St. Pete will likely pass Detroit next year) especially in this era of skyrocketing TV revenue. But it is also easy to forget that the 18th-biggest TV market is only 100 miles away and the info above reminds us that some of those people are watching Rays games also and their numbers don’t count in the Rays local ratings.

How important is that? Consider this: I could only find one other MLB market with a second top-50 market within 100 miles that doesn’t have its own MLB team, Cincinnati and Indianapolis.

And in the case of Cincy and Indy, the combined number of TV homes in those two markets is 1.96 million or about 41% smaller than Tampa-St. Pete and Orlando combined (3.30 million TV homes).

In other cases there is another big market close by, but it has its own team (e.g. Los Angeles and San Diego). In a few cases, a nearby large city is already considered part of the same TV market (San Fran.-Oakland, and Seattle-Tacoma).

The closest I can find to the Tampa-St-Pete-Orlando demographic is Boston and Providence. However, even their combined TV homes (3.03 million) is fewer than Tampa-St. Pete-Orlando with Providence ranking as just the 53rd largest TV market.

It will be a long time before the people of Orlando fully embrace the Rays, if ever (moving to Tampa would help). But there are still a lot of sports fans in Orlando who already embrace the Rays and lot more who don’t have a team to call their own.

The Rays have one of the top 15 local TV audiences in baseball. In reality, it is probably even bigger than that thanks to Orlando.



  1. Starmand says:

    What is the midway point between Tampa and Orlando? Lakeland? Tamlando?

    Heck, I think I would prefer driving to Tamlando than crossing the bridge.

  2. Rob says:

    Jacksonville carries the Rays too (though there are probably a lot of Braves fans there).

  3. Political_Man says:

    I truly think the best sight for a new stadium might be the fairgrounds next to the Hard Rock. Close enough to Orlando to draw some interest in making the drive once or twice a year and as a result more eyes to the television set. There seems like there might be some deals to be made with the Seminoles to get them to kick in some cash for a stadium in exchange for more freedom to run their casino the way they want. Everybody wins.

    And with the Marlins giving up the name of the state the "Florida Rays of Tampa Bay" has a nice ring to it (naming idea directly from the Anges.)

    Makes too much sense though which is why it will never happen.

    • Rob says:

      Please no. The trend, a successful one too, has been to place ballparks close to downtown, if not right in it, and within walking distance of food and bars. I agree with all of your points about proximity, but the Fairgrounds would make for a ho-hum fan experience.

      • Starmand says:

        Look at the bright side. Shoot Straight is nearby. So any discussions with Yankees/Red Sox fans can be settled in the parking lot.

        With an increase of baseball-related shootings, I'm pretty certain bars will open nearby in no time.

      • Political_Man says:

        Your point is well taken but who's going to pay for it? For those of you who don't remember the shenanigans it took to get funding for Ramond James Stadium it failed referendum before they dumped every thing under the sun into the bill and Glazier lied on front of cameras about splitting the costs on election day when it looked like it was going to fail.

        I do think it would be a challenge to create an experience fans can get behind but I wouldn't underestimate the Casino and their ability to create an experience in the surrounding area that people would enjoy

        • Joe Dunn says:

          Raymond James is one of the only major sports venues without a large bar nearby that would tie into the stadium....weird.
          Also, the county was so desperate to keep the Bucs they gave up the rights to any revenue the stadium generates.....non-football events like concerts, truck stuff.
          Glazer family got the sweetest deal ever

      • Mike says:

        I think the Fairgrounds is a great spot. It would need to be developed but so would anywhere Downtown. What the Fairgrounds area has that Downtown doesn't is space and traffic capacity. Putting a stadium at the intersection of I-4 and I-75 puts the Rays within an hour drive of a lot of people. I will disagree with one point. The Florida Rays of Tampa Bay is god awful! Just terrible. Please delete that suggestion before The Rays get a hold of it!

        • Fort Myers Dave says:

          I agree with the Fairgrounds site. The nearby ampitheater and the Seminole Casino could be an added draw for the rays as people could go to either before or after a ball game. The problem is that people in Pinellas County are reaally not going to like the idea but fans from the I-4 corridor, Hillsborough and the Ocala/Hernando/Pasco and Sarasota/Fort Myers corridors of I-75 will find it a convenient drive.

        • Political_Man says:

          I'm not completely crazy about the name but it creates lots of marketing possibilities. You could have several hats which still include the "TB" and "Florida" on the away jerseys. Getting Florida in the name helps sell the team outside the area. I think it makes a lot of sense for a team that has trouble selling tickets.

  4. monte says:

    I don't know why but I'm thinking MLB will not draw fans to the park in Florida, which is strange to me. I personally would welcome a fairgrounds location. It would be closer to Orlando, Lakeland, Ocala and Tampa, but would it lose attending fans from across the bay? I am wondering if there is a good location for a stadium that will be attractive to the Rays' entire market.

    • Mike M says:

      I feel like the fairgrounds presents the same problem the current location has. Although it is closer to Orlando, Lakeland, Etc, I still think it is far enough away for people to not want to drive.

    • Mike says:

      The fans across the bay have had a long time to fill the stadium that is 10 min from their house. I wouldn't expect them to cross the bridge either. . .

  5. Gus says:

    West Palm is a bigger close tv market for Miami than Orlando is toTampa, no?

    • Fort Myers Dave says:

      West Palm Beach/Fort Pierce/Vero is the #38 market with 790K TV homes, Orlando/Daytona is #18 with 1.47 million TV homes. Miami/Lauderdale is #16 with 1.63 million and Tampa #13 with 1.82 million TV homes. Outlying TV Markets: Fort Myers #64 with 505K, JJacksonville #48 with 650K and Gainesville/Ocala 162 with 120K TV homes per Nielsen:


      So by TV numbers the 1/2 combo of Tampa/Orlando is hard to beat. Its probably why UCF and USF often get mentioned as potential expansion partners if one of the Power 5 football conferences need to expand to 16 schools even though neither school has a long football history and USF has really sucked since Skippy Holtz ran the program into the ground after Jim Leavitt got fired....

  6. wareag1e34 says:

    living in Orlando, I am one of the ones watching on Sun Sports EVERY night. There is a growing market for the Rays in Orlando, a reflected by the Rays Up billboards and local radio ads.

    We still make the trip to the Trop a minimum of three times per year, but would attend more if the stadium were in downtown Tampa or the fairgrounds. I would still love to see a stadium near Ybor or Channelside.

  7. Skateman says:

    I live in Vero Beach on the other side of state. I watch the Rays nightly, as does my grandfather who is 94. Lots of Rays fans here, particularly as Alex Cobb went to Vero Beach High School.

  8. mep645 says:

    The Orlando/Kissimmee area can't fill their Spring Training facilities. Astros are moving their SP facility to Palm Beach county near Jupiter. Atlanta Braves are supposedly looking in Sarasota County for a new SP spot and leaving Disney. Orlando is not a baseball attending city. But it is good that they watch.

    • Fort Myers Dave says:

      I think the Twins used to have a AA affiliate at Tinker Field and Tampa's AA affiliate used to be in Orlando before they moved up to Montgomery so the city has had some success in the Southern League which has teams in places like Jackson, Birmingham, Huntsville, Jacksonville, Mobile, etc....


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