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Nats' TV Audience Up 56 Percent

The legend of 9,000 is no longer. As Steinberg writes on the DC Sports Bog, the Nats' TV audience is up 56 percent this year. Their audience, which now averages 12,000 households, is still the smallest in baseball, according to the Sports Business Journal -- but only one team, the Texas Rangers, has seen a larger increase by percentage. Steinberg, as you can read, throws out some thoughts on why the audience has jumped.

Second-lowest TV audience, if you're wondering: The Oakland A's, who average 19,000 per night.

A link to the actual rankings is available here.

By Chico Harlan  |  June 1, 2009; 3:55 PM ET
 
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Comments

why go to an accident scene when you can see one unfold practically every night when the nats play on Mr. angelos's sports network?

Posted by: surly_w | June 1, 2009 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Chico, what is the possibility that the method of measuring the audience size is flawed?

Posted by: ihatewalks | June 1, 2009 4:16 PM | Report abuse

The ratings you link to say that the Oakland A's dra 19,000 viewers per night for second worst. It looks like Baltmore's 34,000/night is 3rd on the list.

Posted by: cheeseburger53 | June 1, 2009 4:16 PM | Report abuse

More games in HD is probably the reason. And those swell Defining Moments ads....

Posted by: ramgut | June 1, 2009 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Perfect. Now they've got a great excuse to keep the status quo. Although it's kinda hard not to go up a bit when you're starting at zero.

Posted by: dovelevine | June 1, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Well since you got Julian I haven't missed a game :)
Seriously, you just never know what you are going to see with a Nats game, it isn't always pretty but it is never boring.

Posted by: skippy1999 | June 1, 2009 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Wil Nieves! YES! Wil Nieves!!

Posted by: CBinDC | June 1, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

The bulk of the increase has to be people who used to go to the games now watching on TV instead (myself included).

Posted by: slewis1 | June 1, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

The O's being so low does not play well for MASN getting it done. The promotional stuff is not so great, the HD is sporatic. Dibble has helped, the hit streak for Zim, Dunn's big bat, the drama of seeing exactly how they will manage to lose tonight . . .

Posted by: dfh21 | June 1, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

34,000 is a lot more than 12,000.

If they keep playing the way they are playing, there will be ZERO viewers.

Posted by: rachel216 | June 1, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Almost 5PM: is Manny still at the helm?

Posted by: joemktg2 | June 1, 2009 4:46 PM | Report abuse

It's 4:53. Do you know where your manager is?

Posted by: dovelevine | June 1, 2009 4:52 PM | Report abuse

"It would absolutely be less insulted. At least it wouldn't be a cheapness thing."

See, that's the thing. Cheap owners either refuse to spend money, or they spend bottom dollar for bottom dollar players. They don't spend top dollar for scrapheap players like the Lerners do. The Lerners aren't cheap, just because you think they don't spend enough money.

Posted by: nunof1 | June 1, 2009 4:54 PM | Report abuse

9000 + 56% of 9000 is?

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | June 1, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

"For instance, don't you want Rizzo and the FO solely focused on the draft now? Firing Manny would create a huge distraction."

Who's distracted, other than the clubhouse guy who has to figure out how to cram "Riggleman" into the space where "Acta" used to be on the nameplate outside the manager's office? Gosh, he might have to go to a smaller font!

It would be more distracting if they mowed the grass in right field before the game. Might even improve the defense too...

Posted by: nunof1 | June 1, 2009 5:00 PM | Report abuse

"The bulk of the increase has to be people who used to go to the games now watching on TV instead (myself included)."

Posted by: slewis1 | June 1, 2009 4:32 PM
----
I'll bet that's a big chunk, but I'm sure MASN reaching more households, as well as more HD games, contributes significantly.

I'm going to about the same amount of games as last year (90% of my 20-game package), but I've been watching almost every game because, while dispiriting, the Nats ARE "in" most games, and the offense is more exciting to watch.

That said, I've already begun skipping games on TV, and will continue to watch and attend fewer and fewer, unless the pitching and D turn around soon - i.e. translating into more wins. It's just getting too hard to take. This team is crushing my spirit. :-(

Posted by: TheBorg | June 1, 2009 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Just think how high the ratings would be if they broadcast fielding practice...

(sorry, couldn't resist)

Posted by: baltova1 | June 1, 2009 5:05 PM | Report abuse

The Lerners aren't cheap, just because you think they don't spend enough money."
_______________________________________________________________

No, I say their cheap because the payroll numbers the last 3 years show that. Good for the bottom 3-5 every year. An average of about 50 million.

You think spending 10 million over 2 years on Da Meat and a 17.5 million on 6-4-3 Kearns over I think 3 years is showing their not cheap? Please, that's chicken feed when it comes to having a competitive payroll.

Posted by: Section505203 | June 1, 2009 5:07 PM | Report abuse

And Angeloser is paying the Nats $25 million a year for the TV rights? AWESOME!!! :-)

Posted by: Juan-John | June 1, 2009 5:11 PM | Report abuse

JCA-CC beat me to the punch. A 56% increase from 9K would be 14K. 12K represents a 33% increase.

And, I also second ihatewalks' theory: I suspect their methodology is screwed up. Probably wasn't as low as 9K to begin with; probably hasn't increased 33%/56% now. Among the factors: Are they correctly tracking when the O's and Nats play on MASN/MASN2? Are they tracking when the two MASNs are in simulcast mode?

Posted by: mvm2 | June 1, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Up 56%!!!! Sweeeet! Can we get some new commercials now please? What about one for bladder discomfort, like a real sports team?

Posted by: Section506 | June 1, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Ok, I gave until 5:15, That will now make 11,999 households watching games this season. See you in the future when things have changed.

Posted by: Tom8 | June 1, 2009 5:17 PM | Report abuse

"You think spending 10 million over 2 years on Da Meat and a 17.5 million on 6-4-3 Kearns over I think 3 years is showing their not cheap?"

I'll go back to what I said before. Cheap owners, or cheap people in general, do not spend millions of dollars like that for things that are absolute crap. They either refuse to spend money at all, or they underbid for stuff that no one else would want anyway. There is no evidence (other than the Crow incident, which is probably at least as much on his agents as it is on the Lerners) of any time when the Lerners have refused to spend money that their baseball people recommended they spend. Maybe they're stupid for blindly following their baseball people, but they're definitely not cheap.

Posted by: nunof1 | June 1, 2009 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Methodology aside, it's pretty easy to surmise that ratings for a bad team decline over the course of a season, as the apparently did for the 2008 Nats (the 9k to 8k drop). It's conceivable that some of the difference between 9k then and 12k now is simply that "then" and "now" really isn't an apples-to-apples comparison. It's possible that this year's numbers will go 12k, to 12k - X, to 12k - Y ... and 2008 and 2009 numbers will look similar.

Posted by: JhonnyBheGhood | June 1, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

It must be because 400,000 watchers are TiVo-ing the game. The rise was people having to scale back their cable service with the economy tanking.

Posted by: Section506 | June 1, 2009 5:37 PM | Report abuse

We're looking at TV ratings for something positive. God we've had it.

Guess we're waiting until after the draft to dump 'ol Manny. Not sure why. It's not like he's a selling point...

Posted by: SaveOurTeam | June 1, 2009 6:13 PM | Report abuse

I have a test for all of you folks debating whether the Lerners are cheap. It's a good one because I don't even know what's the answer.

Jim Edmonds is available, as Jon Heyman points out today on Sports Illustrated's site. I assume Edmonds would rather hold out hope that a contender would pick him up, but should the Nationals sign him? They desperately need a CF and could use another power bat in the 5-6-7 spots in the order. Plus, Edmonds' a true gamer with a quality attitude (and he's still a pretty good fielder).

On the other hand, he's 38, and hit .235 last year. He made $8 million last year, so would probably set them back around $3-4 million for the rest of this year.

Do you sign him or at least try to sign him?

Posted by: baltova1 | June 1, 2009 6:18 PM | Report abuse

It's 6:30 and Manny is still the manager. Unbelievable. We're facing a full season of this. If this isn't bottom, what is?

Posted by: truke | June 1, 2009 6:28 PM | Report abuse

Also for ED, and I don't mean Elijah Dukes. Yeah, I went there...

---

Up 56%!!!! Sweeeet! Can we get some new commercials now please? What about one for bladder discomfort, like a real sports team?

Posted by: Section506 | June 1, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 1, 2009 6:46 PM | Report abuse

If you don't sign a 38 year old washed up center fielder, it's not because you're cheap. It's because you're smart. The combination of Dukes or Kearns or Milledge or Bernadina (the latter two in their casts) gives you more in CF than a washed-up Edmonds would.

Posted by: nunof1 | June 1, 2009 7:13 PM | Report abuse

I called into Lee "Hacksaw" Hamilton's XM show yesterday after the game to see what his thoughts might be (and I need to vent :) ). This was right after he talked about Cecil Cooper's situation in Houston, and he also mentioned Acta and how he (Acta) had apparently mentioned that he felt his job was safe. That infuriated me, because any manager - anywhere - with such a poor record should be worried. I brought up that our bullpen was not to blame these past couple of weeks, nor was Cabrera, but the team still hasn't gotten it together. Lee replied that we're not going to be good for at least another year, that Kasten probably isn't looking at getting rid of Manny, and that Manny should stay, at least for now, unless he's not a good teacher (which I don't think he is). My call was right before a hard break, so I didn't get to respond or ask any more questions.

I still think Manny should have been fired today to show the fans that ownership is serious about fixing what's broken (note to Stan - there are still 4 1/2 hours left in the day). Is Manny the problem? Not necessarily, but the whole team is performing terribly, and he needs to own up to the problem and accept responsiblity. Attendance is going to keep going down at this rate. Sucks to be the Lerners right now.

Posted by: BGinVA | June 1, 2009 7:40 PM | Report abuse

You'd get one more if I could watch MASN on the west coast.

Posted by: PattyinSJ | June 1, 2009 7:50 PM | Report abuse

"...he also mentioned Acta and how he (Acta) had apparently mentioned that he felt his job was safe."

Would you care to provide a citation for this? Other than the idiot you were listening to on the radio, that is. Because I guarantee that Manny has not said anything of the kind.

Hint: people with nicknames like "Hacksaw" are rarely among our intellectual elite.

Posted by: joebleux | June 1, 2009 8:11 PM | Report abuse

The Lerners don't care about the fan base all they care about is the bottom line "THEIR" bottom line financially speaking that is,the team is the laughing stock of MLB, an inept manager, a GM who for all intent and purpose is in limbo, El Presidente Kasten fiddles while the team becomes a season long joke and a punch line for Conan O'Briens late night monologue.I can deal with a team that has a "plan" but this is ridiculous no way you're gonna tell me that Manny Acta should be in the dugout tommorow night like i said he should have never been retained after last season if the Lerners are serious about winning and keeping a fan base intact then Acta is gone before midnight.

Posted by: dargregmag | June 1, 2009 8:37 PM | Report abuse

Anyone catch Dibs on XM-175 MLB Homeplate "The Show"? I caught the last few minutes, he told Jodie MacDonald that Zimm is mentally beat over all of the losing and now he has to face Lincicum, Johnson and Caine. Dibs said Zimm deserves a few days off. Manny, Oh Manny the FOTF is tired can you help?

Oh no here they come, the Dibble haters. Come on fella's lay it on thick cause Dibble never played the game he just a talking head.

Sort of reminds me, I'm not a pilot but I made damn sure the best and the worst of them took off and landed in one piece on my watch. There I admit it, I really was an expert on spotting he or she who could or couldn't do it. I guess that qualifies baseball writers and other assorted charecters to claim that it doesn't matter what the Nats do, they still stink and by all accounts Manny is still the manager, Rizzo is still acting, StanK is still hiding and of course the Lerners are CHEAP!

Posted by: TippyCanoe | June 1, 2009 9:18 PM | Report abuse

Hey was checking manny's blog on MASN when I saw Phil Wood's blog about what AL scouts had to say about the nationals. They compared the team to the 2003 Tigers. They are pretty accurate. 43 wins, no bullpen, a pitching staff that has ERA's over 4.5. all young but later turned out. Also the 03 tigers had familiar faces like Dimitri Young and Will Ledezma.
History repeats itself then the following season will be a 72 win season and a world series appearance only 3 years later.
check out the 03 link for the similarities
http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/DET/2003.shtml
Here's hope.

Posted by: wrw0601 | June 1, 2009 9:42 PM | Report abuse

@ joebleux: Actually, Lee Hamilton is one of the better hosts on MLB Home Plate and he does his research. I wasn't quoting what he said word for word and I don't know what his source was, but he basically said that Acta said (or at least implied somehow) that he wasn't worried about his job being in jeopardy. That's part of the reason I called in, because I couldn't believe it when I heard it.

Posted by: BGinVA | June 1, 2009 9:53 PM | Report abuse

It's 10 o'clock. Do we know where are new manager is?

Posted by: jdschulz50 | June 1, 2009 10:01 PM | Report abuse

"For instance, don't you want Rizzo and the FO solely focused on the draft now? Firing Manny would create a huge distraction."

Who's distracted, other than the clubhouse guy who has to figure out how to cram "Riggleman" into the space where "Acta" used to be on the nameplate outside the manager's office? Gosh, he might have to go to a smaller font!

It would be more distracting if they mowed the grass in right field before the game. Might even improve the defense too...

Posted by: nunof1 | June 1, 2009 5:00 PM


This isn't fantasy baseball. There's a lot that goes into firing and replacing someone. The laundry list of to-do items for Kasten and Rizzo would be several pages long. First, you need to make the list and that involves a solid chunk of time with your legal counsel. Then, you have to decide on a replacement. If you're making a change just to make a change, then I suppose you could just bring in a warm body. But, I suspect that the FO might want to lay out some objectives for the new guy, maybe interview him, do a background check, let Mark Lerner kick his tires for a bit. Oh, and you have to sell this new guy to the big guy upstairs. You probably also need to have a conversation with your team leaders - Zim, Dunn, et al. Then, you need to develop some talking points so you can deal with the media. There would public pressure to interview and hire minority candidates. Bud Selig and his general counsel and his media relations person will want to "chat" with the Lerners and Kasten about their hiring process. For sure, the new guy will be given the "interim" title. So, you're going to have deal with questions and crap all year until you decide on the long-term solution. I'm sure there's a ton of stuff I'm missing. Suffice to say, there is a reason most managerial changes happen in the off-season.

So, yeah, I think it's safe to say there would be more involved than just changing the name plate.

Posted by: hacmanindc | June 1, 2009 10:22 PM | Report abuse

Dibble is much better than I feared. I enjoy his commentary. Like all analysts he gets a little repetitive, but he's surprisingly much better than Sutton.

I finally had time to read Zuckerman's blog about defense and he's not wrong. We do have below average defensive players - especially in the outfield. Dunn is particularly challenged in rightfield. But I do not buy the arguments that defensie infield practice is meaningless or that the Nationals are doing all they can to practice.

Perhaps Rizzo has not had a chance to prove himself yet, but I am not a big fan of his blunt statements. I'm not sure what good ripping players as they are released does. Show a little class, just say it did not work out well for that player here and we wish him well at his next stop.

Posted by: natbiscuits | June 1, 2009 10:36 PM | Report abuse

BGinVA: there's a big difference between not worrying about being fired (which is what Manny has said) and thinking that your job "safe" (which is what you quoted your talk show as saying).

The latter is idiotic, and no baseball manager is going say anything like that.

For Manny's actual words, read Chico's article, which is probably what your talk show host was misunderstanding:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/28/AR2009052803564.html

Posted by: joebleux | June 1, 2009 10:41 PM | Report abuse

"So, yeah, I think it's safe to say there would be more involved than just changing the name plate."

Nah, not really. Make Riggleman or one of the minor league guys the interim manager, and then spend the rest of the season and half the offseason doing all that stuff you listed to uncover the real new guy. Everyone knows that interim managers are like rebound relationships. They never last. They're just placeholders to get the losing stench of the failed manager away from the team while it regroups.

If they pick Riggleman or Knorr as interim, they don't even need to spring for new uniforms. Those guys are already here.

Posted by: nunof1 | June 1, 2009 10:54 PM | Report abuse

So, I'm looking forward to seeing Randy Johnson on Wednesday. Grew up in Livermore, CA about the same time. I didn't know him, but that mullet and peach fuzz remind me of a few high school buddies. I was glad to see him join the Giants for his farewell tour. Now, I would love to see Zimmermann throw a no-no against Randy's 1-hitter. That way, we can declare a moral victory along with, you know, an actual victory.

Although, we'll probably lose on some bizarre, tipped-strike 3, errant throw to first that allows the "slowest Giants runner of all time" to take second, followed by a wild pitch from the closer-du jour that gets the SLGROAT to advance to third, and then the umpire will call a balk on the very next pitch because he's got a thing against the Nats.


Posted by: hacmanindc | June 1, 2009 11:12 PM | Report abuse

When Manny (the hitter, not our guy) comes back, the Dodgers will be shopping Juan Pierre. If management cares about not being a total embarrassment for the rest of the year, the Nats need to be in that market. Whatever the Dodgers need, even if it's NJ.

Posted by: nats24 | June 1, 2009 11:16 PM | Report abuse

"When Manny (the hitter, not our guy) comes back, the Dodgers will be shopping Juan Pierre."

Bet they won't.

Posted by: nunof1 | June 1, 2009 11:28 PM | Report abuse

@nunof1: How much?
You think Ethier will be benched instead?

Posted by: nats24 | June 1, 2009 11:39 PM | Report abuse

To bad they don't count the people with the mlb extra innings package that live out of town....like me. Sometimes I have to cover my eyes, but I watch all the games just the same.

Posted by: cokedispatch | June 2, 2009 12:40 AM | Report abuse

anyone know what Davey Johnson is doing these days?

Posted by: jpt1002 | June 2, 2009 2:12 AM | Report abuse

in a game measured by seasons, it can take years to build audiences for TV broadcasts. think the timespan it takes to build a coral reef on the long end, or a psychiatric or plumbing practice on the short. these numbers are more normal than they are appalling. in fact, this is about the worst things are going to be. so go ahead and project the worst as normal and see how well you feel afterwards. me, i prefer to do as emily dickinson recommended: "i dwell in possibility..."

Posted by: natty-bumppo | June 2, 2009 2:42 AM | Report abuse

Why would they want Pierre? You people keep wanting to get players that other people don't want. That's how we got in this mess in the first place.

Posted by: natsguy | June 2, 2009 3:36 AM | Report abuse

Davey Johnson did a wonderful job in the WBC (not).

Posted by: natsguy | June 2, 2009 3:37 AM | Report abuse

Okay, I know I'll get new posted on this... but I have to comment. The thing that killed the Nationals' TV viewership from the get-go was the fact that their games weren't on Comcast. That first season when they were in first place for most of June (alas, only a short four years ago) might have hooked a lot more people if they could have actually seen the games. We had to switch to DirecTV to see them (about two months before the settlement that allowed them to be shown). So by the time people could get into the habit of watching them, almost two years after coming to Washington, they began to suck eggs big time.

Also, this MASN/MASN2 crap is for the birds. You have to search the dial to find them, and even the cable TV channel listing would say that it was C-Span, rather than the games. I walked into a bar in Rockville one night last season, waiting to meet someone. I asked the bartender to turn on the Nats game (they had DirecTV) and he had no idea where to find it.

Posted by: twinbrook | June 2, 2009 8:01 AM | Report abuse

There might even more viewers if they did a better job advertising which games were on which channel. There are too many nights when I have flipped through several times and cannot find them and I consider myself a huge fan, season ticket holder, blog reader, etc. The average baseball fan, would never find the game some nights.

Posted by: ilovethenats | June 2, 2009 10:00 AM | Report abuse

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