ST. PETERSBURG — Ardent Rays fans and folks who defend the community’s support of the Rays often respond to laments about low attendance at Tropicana Field by pointing to the team’s healthy television ratings.
Those viewership numbers not only continue to reflect local interest, but they spiked in 2019.
The Rays saw an increase in television and online viewership through Fox Sports from 2018 to 2019, according to ratings information acquired from Fox Sports Sun.
Viewership increased both on television through Fox Sports Sun and online through Fox Sports Go live streaming, according to Fox Sports Sun spokesman Eric Esteban. Through 153 games, viewership on FOX Sports Sun increased 15 percent year-over-year, and viewership through Fox Sports GO increased 103 percent year-over-year. Viewership this September is up 18 percent over September 2018.
The Sept. 20 game between the Rays and Red Sox was the media outlet’s fourth highest rated game of the year, and with a 4.2 HH rating (78,767 households), the game ranked as the top show in the market for that night.
The Rays-Yankees game on Tuesday drew a 3.4 HH (63,764 households) on Fox Sports Sun and finished as the most-streamed Rays game ever on Fox Sports Go.
The increase comes in a season in which the Rays are competing for a postseason berth, battling with the Oakland A’s and Cleveland Indians for one of the two American League Wild Card spots.
On Sept. 1, 2018, the Rays record stood at 72-63, and the team was largely out of contention, eight games behind Oakland for the second American League wild-card spot. On Sept. 1, 2019, the Rays record was 80-58, and the team led the AL wild-card standings. The Rays have been in a battle for the postseason all month, potentially driving the increased viewership.
The spike in television ratings contrasts with dismal attendance figures. After a crowd of 20,390 was announced at Wednesday’s final regular-season home game at Tropicana Field, the Rays total attendance was 1,178,735 for the year. The average attendance for the 80 ticketed dates was 14,734, checking in at the fifth-lowest average in the club’s 22-year history.
The Rays had 80 ticketed dates, rather than 81, because they played a single-admission doubleheader against the Orioles on Sept. 3. The 2019 average was a slight improvement from 2018 (14,259).
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The Rays average attendance ranks last in the American League and 29th in all of baseball. Only the Marlins, who drew 10,016 fans per game, fare worse in the stands.
Contact Ryan Kolakowski at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @ryankolakowski.