The Rays may have struggled at the ticket booth this season, but their local TV audience was among the biggest in baseball. According to an industry insider, the Rays and Sun Sports/Fox Sports Florida  finished the season 5th among all baseball teams in local TV ratings.

[You can see more on the ratings, including the surprising teams with the worst TV ratings, in the piece I wrote for Business Insider.]

Here are the top five as well as their respective attendance rankings…

As you can see, the Rays weren’t the only team with attendance issues to still fare well in front of the TV. The Reds were in a similar boat.

While the Rays won’t profit from these ratings directly, it could mean a huge boom for the team’s bottomline when it comes time to renew their TV deal. The current deal expires in 2016. And with the Rangers recently signing a new deal that could be worth as much as $3 billion, the Rays could be in for a huge payday in 2017.

One source indicated to us that the Rays current TV deal is worth approximately $20 million per season. The Rangers new deal is worth $80-150 million per season for a team with TV ratings not nearly as strong.

All of a sudden, the Rays attendance “problems” don’t seem that important.



  1. Thad says:

    Cork, any idea how the Rangers' deal compares on a "per eyeball in the addressable TV market" basis? Meaning, my guess is that the Rangers have a much larger potential audience in their regional market that gets the FSSW station. The size of the addressable market may also impact the size of the deal and the amount FSSW is willing to pay in addition to actual ratings which can move around from year to year depending on success. FSSW goes all over the Southwest including into AR and OK.

    The constant in the equation is the number of eyeballs that CAN see the games. The variable is how many of the eyeballs watch from year to year. I'm guessing that while FSFlorida will no doubt have to pay more in the next deal but it might be capped by the size of the addressable market that CAN see the Rays on FSFlorida. The southern half the state is cutoff by the Marlins deal; the Braves probably seep into Northern Florida with FSS, etc.

    Just curious.

    • Cork Gaines says:

      Hmmm? That's a good question. I don't know the answer but it does seem reasonable that those numbers could have a big impact. But also, how
      much of that investment are they willing to bank on potential viewers?

      FSSW is in an interesting situation. They do broadcast in south Texas, but they have to share with Fox Sports Houston, who have the Astros games. So while there are potential viewers in south Texas, the actual viewers are probably pretty small and always will be in South Texas.

      • Thad says:

        Not to paint this with TOO fine a brush, because I think your point is a good one: the Rays have tremendous generated "interest" among the addressable market that CAN see their games on television. More than most other markets.

        But as it relates solely to the potential revenue from a new Rays TV contract, as I understand the ratings system a single ratings point (1.0) represents 1% of the television households in the viewing area (I'm assuming that the ratings you listed above are regional ratings based on regional television households that CAN get the games). Thus, a 10.0 rating in a region that only reaches 1 million homes isn't as meaningful as a 2.0 rating that reaches 10 million homes in a huge region. The 2.0 rating is reaching double the eyeballs as the 10.0 rating in a much smaller region.

        So, for purposes of pricing the TV deal, if you assume a band of ratings fluctuations over time, the bigger component of the ultimate contract revenue is the number of TV households in the region. Thus, it is my opinion, that while ratings are excellent for the Rays, their potential revenue from a new contract is capped by the eyeballs in the region. And is yet another handicap working against them versus the "larger market" teams including the Rangers.

  2. Gus says:

    Just to put a comparable on it, the local TV revenue at the Rays current low-end deal is worth about the same at 1M in attendance (using the $20 metric that coincides to the leaked documents). The Rangers contract at $80M (if accurate) would be 4M in attendance.

    Sports all over the world are becoming more and more dependent on broadcast rights and less dependent on paid attendance (European soccer stands are often empty, but the games are all over the world. US sports may get there too, esepcially if this recession lingers).

    Does that mean the Rays shouldn't try to improve their attendance? Of course not. Does it mean that the primary reason the Rays can't keep Crawford is because the "smartest guys in the room" signed a crummy TV deal to help their cash flow needs? You bet it does.

  3. Gatorbuc15 says:

    Well at least this is nice to see.

  4. Don says:

    AS I have said many times it KEEPS GROWING AND GROWING....
    Baseball has many sorces of attendance is important but GROWTH of a fan base (market) is most important...Rays are moving in the right direction as many sports franchises are moving in the wrong direction...just look across the bay at the Bucs and lightning....
    and some morons think moving to Tampa is the answer.....
    Anyway, Rays just keep doing what your doing....look for land in N. for the FUTURE.....PROGRESS is you most important product!

  5. cubfanraysaddict says:

    Thanks for sharing the 'tip' on the value of the current TV deal. I hadn't seen any numbers reported and it's nice to get at least a clue to what the deal is.

  6. Amanda says:

    I'm surprised the Rockies weren't in the Top 5. They're practically the only team in an entire time zone. But then again, it's pretty sparsely populated once you get ouside of Denver.


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