Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

Red Sox ratings on NESN are down 20 percent this season

Alex Reimer
July 01, 2017 - 6:07 pm

The Red Sox are one of the least-heralded first-place teams anybody will ever see. They’re on a 92-win pace, but seem rudderless at the same time, bouncing between mini-controversies. This week alone, manager John Farrell stared down WEEI's Rich Keefe and David Price picked a fight with Dennis Eckersley

Even though attendance remains strong –– the Red Sox are averaging 35,848 fans per game, slightly up from their average last season –– there seems to be a discernible lack of interest in the team. Red Sox president Sam Kennedy confirmed as much over the weekend, telling the Boston Globe that ratings on NESN are down 20 percent. He explained a couple of possible reasons for the fall. 

“First of all, I don’t think we’ve played our best baseball yet, but we’re in first place and hopefully things are coming together for us,” he said. “I also think we’ve had a good number of day games. We started with four day games on the road in Detroit.”

The schedule may have something to do with it. The Red Sox have played nearly one-third of their games (26 out of 80) during the day so far this season. But there are likely greater factors at play. First and foremost, the Red Sox are without David Ortiz, their best hitter and biggest draw. While it’s been hard to replace Ortiz in the lineup, finding a new public face to represent the team has been an even greater challenge. 

But putting the focus on Ortiz misses the larger point: interest in the Red Sox has been declining for some time. Though ratings were up last season, the team still failed to consistently win the front page on its way to a 96-win finish. On the night of Sept. 15, for example, when Hanley Ramirez hit a walk-off home run against the Yankees –– a win that Dan Shaughnessy called “one of the greatest regular-season victories of all-time" –– more viewers were tuned into the Jets-Bills matchup on Thursday Night Football. 

Ratings have been trending downward for nearly the last decade. From 2004-2009, the Red Sox finished No. 1 among all local markets in TV ratings. They haven't placed higher than No. 3 among all local markets since, and have been out of the top five since 2013. 

If the Red Sox continue to win, more people will probably watch. But this period of seeming apathy might be the new normal. 


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