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Tigers dominate local TV ratings

With only two exceptions, every MLB team earns high ratings locally. But no team does better in their market than the Detroit Tigers, who own the highest local TV ratings in baseball


You love your Detroit Tigers and the local broadcast ratings of FOX Sports Detroit prove it.

Using data collected between March 31 and July 24, Forbes broke down the Nielsen ratings of the 29 U.S.-based teams. The Tigers dominate local television as the highest rated team in all of baseball, owning numbers nearly a full ratings point higher than any other franchise.

In fact, 12 teams have the number one prime time ratings in their respective markets, including the Tigers, St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Milwaukee Brewers, Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals, Seattle Mariners, Boston Red Sox, San Francisco Giants, and Arizona Diamondbacks.

All these teams earn better ratings than traditional over-the-air broadcast networks and cable juggernauts such as ESPN.

Seven more teams rank in the top three during prime time in their markets, including the Tampa Bay Rays, Minnesota Twins, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Yankees, Atlanta Braves, San Diego Padres, and Colorado Rockies.

Another are in the top nine locally, a list which includes the Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Angels, Miami Marlins, New York Mets, Oakland A’s, and Washington Nationals.

Forbes notes the two large market teams which aren't listed, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros, are embroiled in carriage disputes with major cable and satellite carriers, which greatly limit their local ratings.

But at the top of the Regional Sports Network heap was the Detroit Tigers on FOX Sports Detroit, who own an 8.38 household rating with an average of156,000 households. Second overall are the Cardinals on FOX Sports Midwest with a 7.56 rating over 95,000 average households, and Pittsburgh Pirates on ROOT Sports Pittsburgh with their 7.56 rating on 89,000 average households.

We may be a country of college football and NFL fans, but any rumors of baseball dying has been highly exaggerated. The local ratings say as much.



The good news is you can expect the high payroll Tigers to reap the rewards of a massive new contract with FOX when their current deal expires in the early 2020's. They currently earn approximately $40 million a season on a deal agreed upon in 2008. That's pocket change compared to newer regional contracts, where the Dodgers haul in over $240 million a season and even the lowly Astros rake in $80 million per year.

But there is a fan downside to the ratings bonanza. If you hope to see local blackouts lifted and being allowed to bypass FOX Sports Detroit by watching the Tigers via local access on MLB,TV, that's not happening. MLB and the cable carriers will milk the live sports cow until it's completely dry. So get used to paying for a cable TV subscription if you live in the same market as your favorite team.