Nationals are losing TV viewers
Tuesday's Washington Post reported that the Nationals' TV audience has dropped 43 percent compared to last year, and with an average of 9,000 viewers per game, they are by far the least popular major league team. That TV audience is less than one-third as much as that of the next-lowest team, the Kansas City Royals. That's a bit odd, because the attendance at the home games at Natinals Park has been more or less satisfactory, averaging nearly 30,000 per game. (That's paid attendance, however, and may exceed the actual turnstile count by 15 percent or more.)
As noted by WaPo columnist Thomas Boswell , no other MLB team has more fans at the stadium than watching at home on the tube. If this means that most of those who go to Nats games just want to see the shiny new stadium but don't really care about the team itself, that is bad news indeed. Boswell observed that Orioles owner Peter Angelos is paying about $25 million annually for the TV rights, much more than is commercially justifiable, given the low viewership. Poetic justice, perhaps? One should remember that the Nationals currently have only a minority owership stake in the company that broadcasts their games, the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network. In future years, they will gain a bigger equity share. For details on the last-minute (shady?) TV rights deal between MLB and Mr. Angelos, see my Mar. 31 2005 blog post. Most people expected TV viewership of Nats games to rise sharply after MASN and Comcast signed a deal in March (Yay!), but MASN seems to have more and fancier promotional ads for the Orioles than they do for the Nationals. I can't help but wonder if this sorry situation has something to do with the often-miserly Mr. Angelos... Is he spiteful enough to neglect promoting what could be a very promising sports marketing franchise, forgoing a substantial profit?
Compared to their former selves as the Montreal Expos, nevertheless, the Nationals are doing much better on television. That's because the Expos didn't even have a television contract.
Nats win a game!
Well, at least the Nats won a game last night, breaking their six-game losing streak. John Lannan pitched yet another solid game, giving up no runs and only two hits over six innings, and this time he actually got run support. His 5-9 win-loss record does not begin to reflect his actual performance, however; his ERA is 3.40, which puts him 23rd in the major leagues. The slugging hero this time was Jesus Flores, who pinch-hit a three-run homer into the visitors' bullpen in the sixth inning. Flores has been in a slump lately -- just like several of his team mates. The 5-0 win over the Diamondbacks was the Nats' sixth shutout victory of the season; they have been shut out 11 times this year.
Demolition in Detroit
Partial demolition work has begun on Tiger Stadium, as wrecking crews ripped a gash in the outer wall that exposes the overgrown field inside. [See a photo at Washington Post.] Whether that work will continue until nothing is left of that lovable old hulk of a historic ballpark depends on fan support. Come on, folks:
Save Tiger Stadium!!!