The Phillies barely survived their first road trip of the season and their National League East lead over the Atlanta Braves has dwindled, but the team remains must-watch television for fans throughout the Delaware Valley.
The Phillies are averaging a 4.6 household rating (more than 129,000 households) through the first two months of the season for games airing on NBC Sports Philadelphia and NBC10, according to Nielsen numbers. That would put the team on pace to draw its highest television ratings since 2012, when the team averaged a 5.4 household rating.
The highest-rated game of the year was the Phillies’ win over the Washington Nationals on April 2, which drew a 7.8 household rating on NBC Sports Philadelphia+. It was the highest-rated regular season game to air on either NBC Sports Philadelphia or NBC Sports Philadelphia+ since the Phillies-Mets matchup on July 5, 2012.
The Phillies also gave a boost to ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball, drawing 1.9 million viewers on March 31, according to Sports Business Daily’s Austin Karp. That’s well above the 1.5 million viewers ESPN has averaged for all 10 of its Sunday Night Baseball games this season, including last week’s Yankees-Red Sox matchup.
The interest in watching the Phillies also crosses over to the digital side, where games are averaging 19,000 unique streaming devices this season, according to NBC Sports Philadelphia. That’s an increase of 139 percent compared to last year.
Obviously, the interest stems from the Phillies’ aggressiveness during the offseason, where the team signed Harper and Andrew McCutchen (who suffered a season-ending ACL injury), and traded for J.T. Reamuto and Jean Segura. The recent acquisition of 32-year-old Jay Bruce also provided swift dividends, with the outfielder knocking in two home runs during the team’s win over the San Diego Padres Tuesday night.
After skyrocketing during the first month of the season, attendance at Citizens Bank Park also remains high. Through the team’s first 31 home games, the Phillies were averaging 35,396 fans per game, sixth-highest in the league (trailing the Dodgers, Cardinals, Yankees, Cubs, and Angels). That’s more than 10,000 additional fans per game at Citizens Bank Park compared to the same point last season, an increase that dwarfs every other team (the Oakland Athletics have the second-highest increase, averaging 3,500 more fans per game)
Few MLB teams have been able to increase their attendance this season, which is down about 2 percent overall across the league. Seventeen teams have seen less fans coming through the gate, led by the San Francisco Giants and the Toronto Blue Jays, who have each shed more than 6,000 fans per game. This is on top of the decline that occurred in 2018, when attendance was down league-wide by more than 3 million fans.
"When the game is walks, homers and strikeouts, that’s not a very appealing game to the eye of the fan,” former Phillies outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. said on the Big Time Baseball podcast. “There’s a reason they stand when a guy gets a triple, or you feel the buzz when a guy steals second or third. ... Yes, home runs are exciting too, but it’s just a quick moment that you get to enjoy.”
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