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TV and radio ratings fall for Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  July 26, 2010 01:27 PM

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Interesting story in the Sports Business Journal today about the decline in local television ratings for the Red Sox.

After six years atop baseball's local TV ratings list, the Sox are fifth this year as ratings have dropped 36 percent. They trail the Cardinals, Twins, Phillies and Reds.

Radio ratings are down as well.

The team's sellout streak has continued at Fenway Park. But tickets are pretty easy to come by these days. Speaking only from my own experience, it seems like we get an inter-office e-mail almost every day from people trying to sell off their seats. The secondary market is awash with tickets, too The fervor to get into Fenway has faded.

There are many ways this could be explained, but I don't think performance on the field is one of them. The black-and-white facts are the Red Sox had the best record (45-23) and the best offense (5.8 runs per game) in baseball from April 20-July 3.

They started poorly and have played poorly of late. But for the bulk of the season, they were a terrific team and one that was easy to root for.

So what's your theory?

Has the "Red Sox Nation" stuff died down after the two championships? Have fans become too entitled and now wait for the playoffs to get excited? Or is there something about this team that doesn't float your boat?

Now, bear in mind, these are the ratings for the season through the All-Star break, not the last two weeks. How the team is playing now is not germane to his discussion.

Love to hear your take on the decline in TV ratings.

UPDATE, 3:07 p.m.: Very interesting discussion taking place in the comments section. I would like to add a few points:

1. I think this team is interesting to watch. They play hard, they play right and they played winning baseball for a large chunk of the season. Management also spent a ton of money in the offseason. They have the second-highest payroll in baseball by a wide margin. Arguments that this team is not that good are specious. For most of this season, they have had the best offense in the game.

2. I can't speak to the quality of the broadcast as I attend almost every game in person. But I believe if most people really wanted to watch a game, none of that really matters.

3. Maybe it's just this: This is the true level of interest. From 2004-07, the Red Sox had a lot of bangwagon fans, people who suddenly jumped on board because the team was cool and you could buy t-shirts on every corner.

These people wouldn't know who Casey Kelly was if he were juggling flaming chainsaws in their front yard. To be a true baseball fan takes commitment and not everybody has that commitment. The people who jumped on in 2004 and now off to something else.

What is interesting is whether the NESN ratings will cause John Henry and Co. to go to Theo Epstein the day after the season ends and tell him, "Whatever it takes, get Adrian Gonzalez (or Prince Fielder or whoever) here now."

One would hope not. The idea is to win the World Series, not the Winter Meetings.

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