Local ratings across baseball are down a bit this year when compared to the last full season, and when your club isn’t competitive, you can bet they’re down even more.
— Maury Brown (@BizballMaury) August 7, 2021
Per the report, Cubs ratings are down a whopping 37% from 2019, and 28% from the pandemic season. Neither is CRAZY out of line with a number of other clubs – particularly those that dealt with changes in competitiveness – but are definitely on the higher end. Not what Marquee would’ve been looking for in its first full season after launch, I assume. The drop across all of baseball combined from 2019 is 12%. Not good.
There are some unique caveats there for the Cubs, whose broadcasts were split among NBC Sports Chicago, local ABC, and local WGN back in 2019. The comparison to 2021 is already kinda funky for that reason, given the launch of Marquee and the attempts to increase carriage. And then if you want to incorporate 2020, where the Cubs and Marquee actually did pretty well, you’re dealing with the pandemic season funkiness.
In terms of raw viewership, the Cubs and Marquee are still among the most-watched teams (trailing only the Yankees, Phillies, Astros, Dodgers, and Mets, and virtually tied with the Giants and Red Sox). Clearly there’s a lot left on the table, though.
That is all to say, I don’t know how much you can take away from this beyond: the ratings ain’t great for the Cubs, much in the same way they ain’t great for a number of teams. But when things aren’t going well for the Cubs on the field, we already know that the ratings are going to be sensitive to that, probably even more than attendance at Wrigley Field. Thus, the ratings for the Cubs this year seem to be among the most down.
Note that the rates are as of July 19, so they follow the Cubs’ swoon, but predate the Trade Deadline. Safe to say they aren’t going to get any better the rest of the way. Here’s hoping this was long expected and projected in relation to payroll space in the years ahead …