Cardinals: Kings of Local Television Ratings

St. Louis Cardinals broadcasts on FOX Sports Midwest take top rating crown from the Boston Red Sox in 2010.

Disappointing on the field, the St. Louis Cardinals finished the 2010 regular season as champions in one category – the highest ratings among Major League Baseball's regional sports networks, via Nielsen Media Research data reported by SportsBusiness Journal (subscriber article).

When we last saw data, through the All-Star break, the Cardinals were on top with a 9.70 rating and finished the 127-game schedule on FOX Sports Midwest at 9.50. The drop of just two percent is impressive considering the team's late-season swoon that left them five games out first place and home for the post-season.

This is St. Louis' first time on top of the ratings, displacing Boston, which had held the number one spot continuously since 2004. This year, viewership of Red Sox' NESN broadcasts dropped 37.9 percent, putting Boston out of the top five. Only the Chicago Cubs, with a 39.5 decline on CSN Chicago, fared worse on a year-to-year basis.

In second place behind St. Louis was Minnesota Twins telecasts on FOX Sports North with an average rating of 8.77. Philadelphia, National League Central Division champion Cincinnati and Tampa Bay round out the top five. The Reds telecasts on FOX Sports Ohio had the second-greatest increase from 2009 at 94.5 percent for a 7.47 average rating.

The common thread among the top five is that they were playoff clubs – all except number one, that is.

At the other end, three of the four clubs with the lowest ratings hail from the West Coast. Oakland is at the bottom at 1.16, with the two Los Angeles teams, the Angels and Dodgers, second- and fourth-worst, respectively. The Washington Nationals, on a small base, saw the greatest annual improvement at 136.1 percent yet still finished with the third-lowest average rating.

Back in July, FOX Sports Midwest and the Cardinals announced the network will be televising the full compliment of non-nationally broadcast St. Louis Cardinals games starting next season. The 20 games previously televised by KSDK channel 5, primarily on Sundays, will now be part of the all-high-definition FS Midwest slate in 2011.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Selected TCN content appears at Follow Brian on Twitter.

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