The Nationals and Orioles saw dramatic audience growth in the 2010 baseball season in both Washington and Baltimore, as well as across MASN's seven-state television territory, according to year-over-year Nielsen television ratings. More than 21 million households watched the Orioles and Nationals on MASN in 2010.
The biggest ratings growth occurred in Washington, D.C. where the Nationals doubled their television audience, growing to a 1.4 HH rating - or 33,000 households - from a 0.7 rating in 2009.
The team continued to earn a solid 0.4 HH rating in Baltimore, which was unchanged from 2009. Across MASN's television territory (covering 14 Designated Market Areas from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to Charlotte, North Carolina) the number of households watching the Nationals nearly doubled, as 57,000 homes tuned in on a nightly basis, compared to 31,500 per night in 2009.
The Nationals started the season strong, as the team scored the highest television ratings of its six year history in Washington. Even before the arrival of pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg, the Nationals' television audience was soaring. A full month before Strasburg's debut, on May 10-11, the Nats earned back-to-back 2.0 HH ratings in Washington, which set a new record for the Nationals on MASN, eclipsing the previous 1.8 HH rating record from August 6, 2007, when Barry Bonds broke Hank Aaron's record against the Nationals.
The Stephen Strasburg debut was even more dramatic as the game earned a 7.1 HH rating in Washington when more than 165,000 homes tuned in to watch.
"Certainly the excitement around Stephen Strasburg helped draw attention to the Nationals this season," said MASN spokesman Todd Webster. "But considering that he started only 12 games between June 8 and August 21, it's clear that excitement about the franchise is much broader and deeper than any one player."
Despite a disappointing start to the season, the Orioles grew their television audience in Baltimore and held steady in Washington.
Year over year, the team earned a 3.3 HH rating in Baltimore, a ten percent increase over the 3.0 HH rating in 2009. And in Washington the team held a 0.7 HH rating, unchanged from 2009.
Ratings soared when new manager Buck Showalter took over in early August. During the first two weeks of Showalter's tenure, the Orioles earned a 4.7 HH rating in Baltimore (51,000 households) and frequently beat the broadcast networks' prime-time lineups.
Injecting new life into the Orioles, Showalter led the team to a 34-23 record in the final two months of the season. As Roch Kubatko pointed out on his blog, had the season started August 3rd with the arrival of Showalter, the Orioles would have won the AL East.
Across MASN's 7 state / 14 DMA television footprint, the number of homes tuning in to watch the Orioles increased six percent to 78,000 households per night, from 73,500 homes in 2009.
During the 2010 campaign, the total number of homes that tuned in to watch the Orioles and Nationals on MASN topped 21 million. MASN televised 159 Nationals and 159 Orioles game during the course of the season; the Nats averaged 57,000 households per night and the O's averaged 78,000 per night across MASN's entire television territory.
"The dramatic ratings growth this season, especially for the Nationals, is further evidence that Nationals and Orioles baseball is appointment programming for a huge and growing number of fans," Webster continued.
MASN set a high bar in 2010, with high definition telecasts for every game, in-game features, and insightful pregame and postgame shows. During the offseason, the 24/7 news source MASNsports.com will continue to cover both teams and their players through the Arizona Fall League, the Winter Meetings, and every other development as MASN gears up for an exciting 2011 season.