Braves fans haven’t had much to cheer this season, whether watching games at Turner Field or on TV. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM
Photo: Hyosub Shin
Photo: Hyosub Shin

Braves’ TV ratings down sharply

The Braves, historically one of baseball’s more popular teams on television, rank near the bottom of the major leagues in local ratings this season.

That’s according to two studies, published this week, of MLB viewership for the first half of the season.

The Braves’ local TV ratings were the fifth lowest among the 30 teams and suffered the second biggest drop from the same point last season, according to Nielsen data analyzed by SportsBusiness Journal. Braves games on Fox Sports South and Fox Sports Southeast averaged a 1.35 rating in the Atlanta TV market before the All-Star break, down 34 percent from a year earlier, the study found.

A separate study by Forbes.com, which included games airing only from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., showed the Braves with the sixth lowest local rating at mid-season among the 29 U.S.-based MLB teams, 1.44.

The rating equals the number of households out of every 100 in the market that watched on average.

The Braves’ ratings decline may not be surprising, given that the team has the worst record in the majors and ranks 25th in home attendance this season. But it is noteworthy for a franchise that long was famous for its popularity as TV programming, locally as well as nationally.

During their three decades of being televised nationally on Ted Turner’s superstation, the Braves became known as “America’s Team.” TBS ended the national telecasts of Braves games after the 2007 season.

Locally, the Braves’ ratings have been on a steady decline in recent seasons, mirroring the drop in the team’s win-loss record. According to SportsBusiness Journal’s annual midseason studies, Braves games averaged a local TV rating of 4.2 in the first half of the 2013 season, but dropped to 3.0 at midseason 2014 and 2.03 at mid-season 2015.

Since 2013, when the Braves last won the NL East title, the team’s mid-season local ratings have fallen 68 percent (from 4.2 to 1.35), according to SBJ’s figures.

The team with the highest local rating at the midpoint of this season was the Kansas City Royals, who delivered a stellar 12.23 rating. The team with the lowest local rating was Oakland (0.75). And the only team with a larger percentage decline than the Braves from the first half of last season was San Diego (down 37 percent).

The Braves’ local telecasts during the first half of this season drew an average audience of about 32,000 households in the Atlanta market.