Yesterday 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.