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Nats TV ratings double in 2010

Back in May, when all was happiness and cherry blossoms and "Get Up!" shouts in NatsTown, I noted that the team's TV ratings were way up over 2009. A lot happened since then: Stephen Strasburg arrived, Rob Dibble departed, the winning percentage plummeted and football season began.

And yet, with 162 games in the books, the final numbers were even better than that mid-May snapshot. The Nats wound up doubling their ratings in the D.C. market, earning a 1.4 household rating for their broadcasts on MASN and MASN2. Last year, you'll recall, the Nats' TV audience was up 67 percent over the tragically low 2008 numbers. For a team that's lost 196 games over the past two years to have so steadily grown its television audience is, I believe, a win.

The 1.4 rating equals about 33,000 households in the D.C. market. Nats games also attracted about 5,000 households in the Baltimore market, and about 57,000 total households across the seven-state MASN footprint, an increase of about 80 percent over 2009.

And, significantly, the Nats got better rankings in the D.C. market than the Orioles did. This hasn't always been the case -- even last year, the two teams were tied in this market. The Orioles drew an average rating of 0.7 in Washington this season, the same as in 2009.

Still, the O's had a larger overall audience in MASN's viewing area, attracting an average of about 78,000 households. The Orioles' rating in the Baltimore market was a 3.3., good for about 36,000 households and a 10 percent increase over 2009.

As for the inevitable team-to-team D.C. comparison, the Caps averaged about a 1.6 rating on CSN and CSN+ in the D.C. market last year, good for 37,000 homes. The Wizards averaged about a 1.16, good for 28,000 homes. And Sunday's Redskins-Eagles game earned a 33.0 rating locally, which is a dang lot of viewers. ("REDSKINS CONTINUE TO DOMINATE TELEVISION PROGRAMMING IN D.C. DMA" read the subject line on the press release the Skins sent out on Tuesday.)

As for why the Nats ratings increased? You tell me. The HD absolutely helped. I often found myself turning in to hear what Dibble was saying. Strasburg was a must-watch, though he only started a dozen games. And, dare I say, the team was actually more compelling.

By Dan Steinberg  | October 6, 2010; 12:38 PM ET
Categories:  Nats  
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Televise the Presidents' race and I'll start watching.

Posted by: elcartero | October 6, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Dan- where does a 33.0 rate in comparison to what Pittsburgh had on Sunday against the Ravens?

Posted by: nford2 | October 6, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

So the Natinals doubled their fanbase from 12 to 24. Kudos to them.

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | October 6, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

I liked watching the Nats on tv better with Dibble around.

Posted by: BrokenClipboard | October 6, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

"Televise the Presidents' race and I'll start watching.

Posted by: elcartero | October 6, 2010 12:45 PM"

Idiot. They already show the Presidents Race every night, delayed about a half inning or so.

Posted by: FeelWood | October 6, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

MASN ran a commercial the other day stating that 13 million people had tuned in to watch the Nats and O's during the season. I'd really like to know what the MASN marketing people are smoking.

Posted by: Juan-John1 | October 6, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

That 57,000 households for the Nats and 78k for the Os would be the average per game. Count out a few games that MASN didn't broadcast (and the 6 head to head games) you'd have to figure they broadcast about 315 games. If you average the Nats and O's attendance this would yield 67,500 per game shown or roughly 21 million viewers over the course of the season (or about 9 mil for the Nats and 12 mil for the Os).

Posted by: cmdrwilkens | October 6, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Juan-John1, they're probably using a cumlative total...

As for myself, I watched to listen to the Bob and Rob show which once it was canceled, I hardly tuned in anymore.

And while I'm not a Nielsen, I can tell you that if I was, I wouldn't cop to watching MASN (and I'm not alone in this) because the lower the Nats ratings, the more likely Angelos gives up on the idea of owning his own network.

Posted by: CapsNut | October 6, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

That was all Dibble

Posted by: gws2p | October 6, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Comparing ratings of sixteen network football broadcasts to cable broadcasts of teams that play five or ten times as many games is beyond ludicrous.

Posted by: poguesmahone | October 6, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Dan I think you largely answered your own question; some what better team and Strasburg mania. I think as the season progressed the drama Morgan provided may have kept viewing interest up a bit. Watching Zimmermann return and the late season call ups may have helped some as well.

Posted by: norfolkoms | October 6, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse

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