Before the barbs start flying, I want to make it clear that I not here to argue the emotionally-charged term “best fans in baseball,” words most often misused and abused by supporters of the St. Louis Cardinals and critics alike.
Nielsen has released its annual “Year in Sports Media” report for 2013. The firm labels it “a compilation of media highlights, advertiser trends and consumer insights across leading sports properties.”
Among the items in the 32-page report include hours of sports programming available to viewers and hours viewed, time spent by fans viewing sports sites on computers and smartphones by year and even by race, plus much more.
The report has sections on each of the major professional leagues, the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL, plus motor sports, golf, soccer, NCAA basketball and football, as well as a quick snapshot of other sporting events not included in the above categories, and a global view of sports.
Data reported includes top events watched, viewer demographics, key apps, top advertisers and the top local fan bases. The latter is defined by the “% of population that has watched, attended or listened to the team in the past 12 months.”
Here are the results for MLB.
Top five local fan bases, Major League Baseball, 2013
- St. Louis Cardinals – 76 percent
- Cincinnati Reds – 69 percent
- Detroit Tigers – 68 percent
- Boston Red Sox – 66 percent
- Milwaukee Brewers – 65 percent
In terms of baseball viewership on television, the long-term ratings success of FOX Sports Midwest has often been reported, including right here. Nielsen singles it out as well – “Detroit and St. Louis have had more consistent success, and led their leagues in local household ratings with the Tigers averaging 9.6 and the Cards 8.7 in 2013.”
The report notes the six-game World Series between Boston and St. Louis was the most-watched MLB event of the year, averaging 14.9 million viewers and 4.3 million related tweets. Series viewership was 18 percent higher than in 2012. The All-Star Game was second at 11 million.
Though radio listening to baseball games is an afterthought to many, it is not the case in St. Louis.
In the St. Louis metro area, across the most desirable demographic to advertisers, men aged 25-54 accounted for 37.3 percent of the radio audience tuned to the 2013 World Series. KMOX’ audience was up 65 percent over the regular-season rate of 22.6 percent.
In other related demographic data, 39 percent of the St. Louis World Series radio listeners are women. 52 percent of the local radio listeners make $75,000 or more per year.
In conclusion, “best fans” is an ambiguous term best ignored. Yet the data clearly affirms that St. Louisans follow their team more than do residents of any other Major League Baseball city.