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Nats ratings on MASN soaring

(Photos by Kathy Willens - AP)

I've mentioned before that the Nats, as expected, are experiencing sort of drab attendance this year, in the wake of the back-to-back 100-loss seasons. But if there's a one-year lag in attendance perking up with better on-field results, there's no similar impediment to TV ratings perking up.

Thus, according to Nielsen data, the Nats set and then tied their all-time mark for ratings on MASN in the past two days. This for mid-May games against the Mets. Overall, Nats ratings on MASN and MASN2 are up 43 percent over last season at this time. That's good for a 1.0 household rating in the Washington market, equal to about 20,335 households.

Now, is that still lower than the Caps and Wizards? Sure it is. But it's going in the right direction, and in a hurry, which is more important.

And the highest numbers have come as the team's respectability became clear. (And as the Caps' season ended.) Last Thursday's game against the Braves, when Scott Olsen flirted with a no-hitter, got an eminently respectable 1.8 household rating, the highest since the summer of 2007, when Barry Bonds was going for the home run record against the Nats. In the targeted demographic of men aged 25-54, that game scored a 1.7, the best-ever Nats rating on MASN for that demo.

Monday's and Tuesday's games against the Mets did even better, both drawing 2.0 overall ratings. Tuesday's game scored a 2.0 among men 25-54, breaking last week's record for the best-ever in that demo. If you care about whether this team will succeed in this market, these numbers are very, very, very promising. And put this in the first paragraph of those arguments about how as soon as this team becomes a genuine contender, fans will flock.

A few other Nats notes:

* A journalist with new D.C. news Web site TBD proposes that leading the way on Nats coverage could be as valuable to that site as being yet-another site with Redskins news. I happen to disagree, but it's an interesting premise, and this MASN news might indicate that there is indeed plenty of room for Nats growth.

* Lots of cynics have floated "regressing to the mean" jokes about the Nats' hottish start. I was, naturally, curious what we can learn from records in mid-May. Last year on this date, 12 MLB teams were at least three games above .500. Seven of them finished the season with winning records. Three of them made the playoffs.

Through 33 games, the World Champion Yankees were 16-17. The NL champion Phillies were 17-16. The Nats are currently 18-15.

* That said, The Nats Blog used Accuscore to compute the team's playoff chances at 23.8 percent. That's a lot better than last year's chances at this time, which were somewhere around -700 percent.

* Here's an animated gif of Nats fan and Bog reader Michael Palan catching a foul ball in Queens Tuesday night. Well done.

* And here, via City Desk, is Giant Racing Abe wandering around downtown D.C.

* In a truly remarkable rant, Steve Phillips predicted that Cy Young favorite Livan Hernandez will actually be released by the Nats before the end of the season. Highlights, via Federal Baseball:

"I'm willing to say right now that come August he'll be released from the Washington Nationals. I mean, you look at his history, and he's never been this good the first part of the season, but he always seems to get off to a fairly decent start, but as the season goes along, that stuff catches up to him. It's amazing. He's has more guts than any pitcher at the major league level, because to have the courage to throw that stuff over the plate, that he throws up there, and not be afraid of getting a line drive back, or that he's going to hurt a third baseman....Sooner or later it seems like stuff catches up to him and he gets crushed, and I can't believe that this year will be any different than the last three, four or five years for him and by August I don't think he's going to be a Washington National and I think he'll be released and looking for another job."


By Dan Steinberg  |  May 12, 2010; 11:28 AM ET
Categories:  Media , Nats  
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And right after he said that, Steve Phillips sexually harassed a production assistant at wherever he is working now.

Posted by: harrisongoodman | May 12, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Steve Phillips not knowing what he's talking about? Why should anything change?

Boswell wrote either a column or a long chat answer last summer explaining that Livan was never really as bad as some of his stats the past few years indicated. Analyzing the numbers, he found that every fourth start Livan had a horrible 9 runs in three innings type of game, but that the other three starts were usually quality, 2 to 3 runs in 7 innings types of games. He's apparently eliminated the once in four games stinker.

Posted by: TheFingerman | May 12, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Considering how terrible it is to listen to Rob Dibble, all those new viewers must be deaf or at least turning the sound down.

Posted by: catalogbohemian | May 12, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

I've got the sound off. I felt really bad for Johnny Holliday last week having to work with Dibble.

Posted by: doubleuefwhy | May 12, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

I find Dibble kinda amusing. In a "Joe Biden ohmyfudge what's he gonna say next" kinda way.

Plus I heard he took a chainsaw and cut everything that he and his ex-wife owned in half when she wanted a divorce.

Posted by: COYNECMC | May 12, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

"Overall, Nats ratings on MASN and MASN2 are up 43 percent over last season at this time."

Recall that last season only about 60% of Nats games were being broadcast in HD, while this year all of them are. (Well, except for that unfortunate MASN radio incident at Wrigley Field a couple of weeks ago.) And the picture quality of MASN's standard definition broadcast last year was absolutely terrible, worse than most any other station, because they were shooting the games in HD but showing them in standard def. Everyone knows that unless you're hardcore sports on TV aren't worth watching unless they're in HD, so the fact that all Nats games are finally in HD has to play a big part in the higher viewership numbers.

Posted by: nunof1 | May 12, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Dibble is a stooge, a boor, and an idiot. He's the only reason I won't park it and watch a game on TV.

I'll gladly go to games at the beautiful nationals stadium however. I figure the hellish Metro ride is a small price to pay to see the Nats, sans Dibble.

BTW, i LOATHE watching baseball games on MUTE, so stuff it if that's your great idea. Same with radio audio/tv visual. The lag is distracting.

Posted by: Please_Fix_VAs_Roads | May 12, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

I find Dibble hilarious!! Between his blatant homerage (is that even a word?), and his nicknames, he's quite refreshing compared to other color commentators. I mean, would you rather have senile Joe Morgan??

Posted by: bzerante1 | May 12, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Hey, just when you needed a good story in DC sports, here comes a Nats playoff run mention!

Love the pics of the happy team... Are the Nats the new "fun bunch"?

Posted by: law3 | May 12, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

I know it's been asked before, but I don't recall a response:

Do these numbers include those who have MLB Extra Innings and choose to watch the MASN broadcast?

It would be interesting to see how many baseball fans outside of the DC market are tuning in.

Posted by: JohninMpls | May 12, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

This is just the D.C. market, JohninMpls

Posted by: DanSteinberg1 | May 12, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

bzerante1: yeah-huh! I would def rather listen to Joe Morgan! I have always loved his analysis. (Did this senility kick in recently, or is that a long-standing thing? Oy, what if I like that in an analyst!)

To Bog's point about "regressing to the mean," 7 of 12 finishing above .500 means 5 of 12 finishing below, so the Nats are fully eligible, and I do worry about all those 1-run Wins flipping around on them.

But, hey, gotta enjoy it at least while it lasts! The '05 edition with F Robby were a blast, even though they fell off so after the All-Star break.

Posted by: JefComment | May 12, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

you media people have a fixation with attendance and ratings, you'd think teams were moving every year based on these numbers the way you cover them

team has a lease until 2037, and since stadiums got $$$, the league hasn't broken leases and has stuck it out a lot of places - Cleveland and Pitt can't draw flies and I promise you neither one is moving anytime soon

also, here's a suggestion to the Post on Nats coverage - instead of turning people like me off with your over-coverage of the out-of-town last place AL East team, how about a little more depth on the hometown team - would like to avoid some of the narcissistic Nats blogs out there - but they provide much greater depth on the team and the farm than you do

Posted by: TGT11 | May 12, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

The lesson of the story is that nature abhors a vacuum. The collapse of the Caps allowed this opportunity for the Nationals to make inroads with local sports fans. Even the best Nats team couldn't have jump started its ratings if the Caps were still playing. All that said, the Nationals should be congratulated for taking full advantage of this chance.

Posted by: evwill | May 12, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

I agree. With the Caps choke, there is nothing else to watch.

Posted by: poguesmahone | May 12, 2010 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Steve Phillips is back....Hide the ugly interns the GM who traded Scott Kazmir for a box of rocks is back making outlandish predictions.See this as kinda like his rap with the ladies,"throw enough crap at the wall ,something is bound to stick." Steve liked you better on vacation

Posted by: wellscats | May 12, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Dibble is a former player and some of his insight is refreshing...I agree he can be a little over the top but what do you want, someone boring???? Can't have it all..and until someone better comes along I will settle for Dibble....

As for Livan have to remember he has not been pitching for a very good team the past 3 thankful for his durability..I don't blame the Nats for getting rid of him a few years ago as they were looking for promising youths...but as we have seen this year, a few veterans mixed in is good for team chemistry....

Posted by: pentagon40 | May 12, 2010 9:53 PM | Report abuse

Amazing how drafting Stephen Strasburg could give the Nationals new life on baseball! Livan Hernandez.. wow.

Posted by: RedCherokee | May 13, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

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