The Cincinnati Reds tv rating for 2017 were up significantly versus the 2016 season. Forbes released the ratings for all of the teams in the US (the Blue Jays ratings were not included). Most teams saw their ratings decline. 17 of the 29 teams were watched less often than in 2016 than they were in 2017. The Reds, despite their poor record, saw their ratings up 19% over 2016. That was the 9th best increase in baseball.

The Reds are in one of the smallest markets in all of professional sports. Their ratings were 17th best in all of baseball, which isn’t bad given how they actually played. With that said, due to the market size, that means that they were 25th in total viewership per game. The team averaged 34,000 viewers per game. The Yankees led the way in total viewers with 286,000 per game. The Indians, who had the best ratings, due to their market size, averaged 138,000 viewers per game.

When we are trying to compare the Reds, with their small market size, to a team like the Indians who are generally considered more of a small market than large market team, it’s still tough. The Indians market has 40% more televisions than the Reds market does. For the Reds to get the same number of eyes as the Indians did in 2017 they would need to get a 16.2 rating. The Indians led baseball with a 9.22 rating. Essentially, it’s going to be impossible for the Reds to ever see those kinds of ratings without an incredible amount of expansion in population in the Cincinnati television market.

A team like the Yankees had nearly the same ratings as the Reds. But due to their market size, it meant that they had 8.4 as many total viewers. The Dodgers had one of the lowest ratings in all of baseball at 1.11, but averaged nearly three times as many viewers as the Reds did, despite the Reds having a rating nearly four times as high. Local tv contracts make and break a teams budget. The Reds are always going to be behind the proverbial 8-ball. Even in the best case scenario where they have the best ratings in baseball, they will still be a middle-tier team when it comes to overall viewership. The Reds having the same 9.22 rating that the Indians led baseball with would have put their overall viewership ranking at 13th in baseball. While that beats the pants off of the 25th that they ranked this year, that’s probably the best case scenario for the organization.

Major League Baseball is eventually going to have to find a way to improve the revenue disparity between the haves and have nots. Right now it’s tough to see how a team in Cincinnati, even if they do everything right, can find a way to spend with the haves. I often hear people point to the Cardinals as a smaller market team that “does it”. And to be fair, the Cardinals certainly seem to be competing every year for as long as most of us remember (slight exaggeration, but you get the point). But if the Reds and Cardinals have the same tv ratings as the Cardinals do this year, it means the Cardinals are getting 42% more viewers. That’s a lot of advertising dollars that the team in St. Louis can ask for that the team in Cincinnati simply can’t.

Fall ball officially begins

Last night the Arizona Fall League got started for the Scottsdale Scorpions. That’s the team that the Cincinnati Reds prospects are on this year. Brantley Bell started at second base, while Taylor Sparks got the starting nod at third. Bell got out to a tough start on the night, going 0-3 with three strikeouts in his first three trips to the plate. In his final at-bat he singled to shortstop and followed up by stealing second base. Sparks went 1-3, was hit by a pitch, stole a base of his own and scored two runs.

The Mexican Winter League also began yesterday. As of right now, only Sebastian Elizalde is in the league among Cincinnati Reds prospects. That may change as the season gets further along. Elizalde is playing with Culiacan once again this year, but they did not play on Opening Night in the league.


12 Responses

  1. Derick

    I feel like the reds should be be able to get their foot in the Nashville, Indianapolis and West Virginia media markets if they’re not already doing so. This should bump their market reach even if they share that with other teams. I’m sure the reds would have done that if they could, I think that the reds should have many more markets to reach than the Indians who seem to have only access to the Cleveland, Columbus and maybe the Toledo media markets.

    • Doug Gray

      While you’re correct, that also applies for almost every team in baseball. They all have outlying cities they can and are tapped into to expand their market.

    • Wes

      I live in Louisville area and it should be a red city but it’s not even close. I meet just as many cards and cubs fans as reds fans. Maybe reds need to do a better job marketing to surrounding metros?

      • Doug Gray

        When you go 15 years without making the playoffs between 1996-2009, it’s tough to market it. Especially when the Cubs had almost every game on national TV (WGN) at the time and the Cardinals started their run of winning with Mark McGwire and the home run chase around that same exact time and they never looked back. With that said, I’m not sure that they can’t do better – but I do think that they had a whole lot working against them for quite a while.

        You’ve got to win first and foremost. That isn’t enough, at least in this market – but it’s got to be the #1. After that, you’ve got to get more creative. Owning Kentucky as “Reds fans” would be big. Getting Indianapolis, Lexington and Louisville could really help.

      • Wes

        Creating long term success isn’t impossible but they need to be nearly perfect in management to go on a 6-8 year run. Reds got the talent to do it for sure. Gotta be willing to part with guys that seem ready to breakout at right time while stock is way up. Most contracts are better for player so don’t get into any long term player friendly contracts that bogs down payroll.

        I Think the reds did a really poor job of transitioning from competing to loosing last time- making the rebuild last another season or three too long.

  2. Michael Smith

    I do not know the inner workings of the reds tv contract but I would imagine those outlying markets would have to come to an agreement with fox sports ohio.

  3. Billy

    I imagine I’m in the minority here, but I don’t really see a major problem between the “haves and the have nots.” Sure, the Yankees of the world are going to make more money than the Reds. That does give them access to more free agents – particularly the high-dollar variety. Those high-dollar free agents on long-term contracts come with hidden costs though. They provide a benefit in the short-term, but tie up roster spots in unproductive, aging players over the long haul. There may be an advantage to being able to sign those players, but I believe it’s only a slight one after factoring in the risk involved.

    This isn’t the steroid era anymore. Back then, aging sluggers remained productive players well into their 30s. Paying a premium on a known quantity was generally seen as a good business decision, and there was a big advantage in having the money to be able to afford to do so. Nowadays, it seems that blue-chip talent is showing up to the league ready to play, so teams aren’t wasting service time on unproductive years. Plus, it is increasingly rare to find older players who are just so good that their production can’t be matched by a younger (i.e., cheaper) counterpart. The talent pool worthy of free agent dollars just isn’t as large as it used to be.

    Making money is good for a team. There’s some competitive advantage to making more money. But I think it’s a small advantage in today’s game. Data-driven decision-making, amateur and international scouting, player development, and injury prevention are all areas that are at least as important to a team’s success. If a small market team does those things better than their competition, it won’t matter that they don’t have money to acquire the elite free agents.

    • Doug Gray

      What it also does, though, is let them have a stronger bench, outlive any mistake they do make, deal with injuries much better in many cases…. money matters more than in just free agency at the top.

      And money also helps in data. You can hire more people. Better people (at least in theory). While that doesn’t come anywhere near the same cost as a major free agent, if you can do both, it’s very different than not being able to.

    • Colt Holt

      True, we are fortunate enough to not have to deal with aging/underperforming players like Homer Bailey, Devin Mesoraco, and Brandon Phillips…it’s a good thing we don’t have more money to spend so we can get more for less! I get what you are driving at, but that doesn’t really reflect reality. They certainly risk more money going to unproductive players because they have more high value players, but those teams will still have higher payrolls related to productive players, and they are not exempted from benefiting from control of young players (ie. Corey Seager, Bellinger, Judge, etc).

    • Wes

      This is why i hate all the pressure from fans to get reds to spend more money. Reds have never been afraid to spend imo. I believe ownership hears that and responds inappropriately. There is no room for error when it comes to contracts and reds. when you spend to please you sign players to bad contracts for the organization and it kills the reds chances to compete.

      So there’s no way I give cozart 3 yrs. and if Reds can’t extend Suarez to a team friendly- trade him for market value.

  4. Arnold Ziffle

    In today’s baseball, no team wins a World Series with home grown players alone. The KC Royals made trades and free agent singings to supplement their core and won a World Series. The Chicago Cubs made trades and free agent signings to supplement their team and won a World Series. The Houston Astros made some trades and free agent signings and may be the World Series favorite for this year.
    The Reds will need some extra revenue so they too can sign a free agent or two for a World Series run. Ratings going up in a bad year helps for next season’s revenue.
    Maybe the increased ratings will attract a better quality of commercials that FSO shows during Reds telecasts. They have a number of some awful, awful commercials. Way too many. The same ones over and over and over and over all season long. This is an area that FSO really needs to step up their game.

  5. paulrichjr

    In reply to the Reds reaching out to markets such as Nashville it should be noted that the Reds already do so. The Reds are shown in a fairly large part of TN including Nashville. It is not every game though. If I were guessing I would put it at about 1/3 of the televised games are shown on FSTennessee. The Braves and Cardinals are also considered local with most of their games shown. Unfortunately with the Reds being considered semi-local as a Reds fan that wants to watch a lot or games I am not able to do so. The FoxSports apps will not allow me to watch the Reds and the MLB app considers them local throughout TN so buying that will not work. You literally never know when the Reds will be on either as often the guide shows something else but magically the Reds are being carried. The only solution is to buy the Fox Sports channels through Directv or Dish. This allows you to watch virtually all of the Reds games in TN….at a steep price.