Rays are most popular team in town
The Tampa Bay Rays are, for now anyway, the most popular team in town.
That's according to Scarborough Research, which measures the lifestyles, shopping patterns, media behaviors and demographics of consumers. Using a formula that takes into account television and radio listeners as well as attendance from August 2010 to September 2011, Scarborough determined the Rays had just more than 1.5 million fans. The Bucs came in second with about 1.49 million, and the Lightning had just fewer than 700,000.
The Rays' popularity over the previous year increased by 1.39 percent while the Bucs dropped dramatically -- nearly 19 percent. The Lightning's following jumped by about 25 percent thanks to its first playoff appearance in four years.
The numbers suggest about 44 percent of Tampa Bay residents are considered fans of the Rays. Yet that 44 percent was far less than many other major-league teams in their markets.
For example, 73 percent of those who live in St. Louis are Cardinals fans and 69 percent of those who live in Philadelphia are Phillies fans. In fact, of the eight teams that made the playoffs this year, the Rays were last in total penetration of the market.
Meantime, final local television numbers are in for the baseball season. The Rays had an average rating of 3.9 on Sun Sports. That means 3.9 percent of Tampa Bay households with televisions tuned into games. That's 70,005 viewers per game, down from last season but about on par with 2008 and 2009. The 3.9 local rating is in the middle of the pack in Major League Baseball. The Phillies led at 9.7 followed by the Cardinals (8.9), Brewers (7.9), Red Sox (7.9), Reds (7.2), Tigers (6.4), Twins (6.0), Indians (6.0), Pirates (4.8) and Yankees (4.3).