Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports

Red Sox primetime TV ratings down 15 percent this season, but still near top of the league

Alex Reimer
October 10, 2017 - 10:49 am

One of the prevailing storylines surrounding the Red Sox this season was the apparent lack of interest in the team. Television ratings on NESN were down 20 percent through the first half and the club didn’t seem to endear itself with the fan base. Tickets for Games 3 and 4 of the ALDS, for example, were available just hours before game time.

The final primetime TV ratings reflect that to be the truth. But in comparison to the rest of the league, the Red Sox are still making out fine. 

According to Forbes’ Maury Brown, the Red Sox ranked No. 4 in local primetime TV ratings this season, averaging a 5.98 Nielsen cable rating per night. Last year, the Red Sox ranked No. 6 in local primetime ratings. This is the first time since 2013 they have been in the top five. 

That's the good news. The bad news is, ratings on NESN declined 15 percent on the whole compared to last year. A late-season surge wasn't enough to make up the lost ground. 

In general, baseball’s national TV ratings declined across the board this season, as primetime numbers were down six percent. But still, the game remains strong in local markets. Twelve teams won primetime this season, including the Red Sox. The Yankees, who finished No. 23 in local ratings in 2016, rebounded to place ninth this year amidst their surprise playoff berth. 

These numbers indicate it might be time to change the conversation about whether the Red Sox are fading in popularity. They’re not nearly as big as they were 10 years ago, but that’s probably more of a commentary on baseball than the team itself. In comparison to other clubs, the Red Sox remain at the top in terms of fan interest. They drew more than 2.9 million people to Fenway Park this year, too, ranking fourth in the American League in attendance.

Major League Baseball is diminished as a whole. But within the new framework, the Red Sox are still doing well, even if they're seeing slides themselves.  

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