Compared to the rest of the league, the Dodgers are relatively invisible in their own market.
Their 1.23 household rating on SportsNet LA ranked 28th out of 29 teams for regular season, prime time games through June 30. (Local ratings for MLB’s only non-U.S. based team, the Toronto Blue Jays, are not included in the Nielsen data.)
Household rating is dependent on a team’s market size. In a sense SportsNet LA has a built-in disadvantage there, since a program airing in a smaller market has an easier chance of grabbing a larger share of the ratings pie. Measured by average prime time viewership, the Dodgers’ nightly average of 67,000 viewers ranked 18th on the list, also below average.
SportsNet LA’s biggest disadvantage, of course, is that it’s only available locally to Charter and Time Warner Cable subscribers. Given its market size, a baseball team based in Los Angeles should attract viewership similar to teams in New York and Chicago. Forbes reports that the Dodgers’ regional sports network viewership matched that of the Houston Astros and ranked just ahead of the Minnesota Twins. It doesn’t help local viewers that Dodger games shown nationally on MLB Network — and sometimes ESPN, TBS and Fox — are regularly blacked out in the Los Angeles market.
Meanwhile SportsNet LA has been a cash cow for the Dodgers, whose contract with Time Warner Cable was recently valued at $8.3 billion.
We reported in July that Dodger games on SportsNet LA enjoyed a 51 increase in household ratings compared to the first half of the 2015 season. For that report, we relied on data provided by Charter that encompassed the first 91 games of the season. The Nielsen ratings reported by Forbes included only the first 81 games, and excluded games not shown in prime time.
Charter’s press release also mentioned the Angels’ viewership on Fox Sports West was 11 percent lower in terms of household ratings, and 3 percent lower in terms of average viewers, compared to Dodger games on SportsNet LA. Forbes’ data contradicts this, putting the Angels’ household ratings on Fox Sports West as 3 percent higher (1.27 compared to 1.23 for SNLA) and more than 4 percent higher in terms of average viewers (70,000 to 67,000). Again, that data reflects only prime-time games through the end of June only.