Is the decline in on-field fortunes of the 2016 St. Louis Cardinals already being reflected in lower fan interest?
Whether looking at attendance or television viewership, the answer appears to be “yes”.
On the positive side, the Cardinals finished second in attendance among the 30 MLB teams once again, behind only the Los Angeles Dodgers.
However, St. Louis’ total of 3,444,490 represents the team’s second consecutive year of declining home attendance. The Cardinals’ 2016 drop of 2.2 percent is considerably more than the overall MLB decline of 0.6 percent compared to 2015.
As previously noted, one contributor had to be the Cardinals’ .469 winning percentage at Busch Stadium this season. That was the worst home mark since the Bill DeWitt Jr. ownership group assumed control of the team two decades ago.
The yearly decline in home wins was a whopping 17 games – resulting in the 29 games over .500 mark in 2015 plummeting to five games under this season. Not surprisingly, that is also the biggest year-to-year change in home fortunes during the past 20 years.
|Cardinals||Attendance||YTY||Home W||Home L||Pct.||vs .500||YTY|
|2006 Busch III||3,407,114||-3.7%||49||31||0.613||18||-1|
|2005 Busch II||3,538,948||16.1%||50||31||0.617||19||-6|
Switching gears to television viewership, we will start again with the positive.
Cardinals games on FOX Sports Midwest were again the number one prime time programing in St. Louis during the baseball season. St. Louis’ overall ratings remained second in MLB, behind only the Kansas City Royals.
On the other hand, those ratings were down a whopping 21 percent from 2015 (from 10.86 to 8.54) – during a year in which MLB television ratings overall were up 1.0 percent.
Interestingly, the other National League Central Division playoff club from 2015 to miss out in 2016, the Pittsburgh Pirates, also experienced a 21 percent ratings freefall. That knocked the Bucs from third to fifth in the MLB ratings.
Here are the ratings details from Forbes.
Putting this together suggests the Cardinals’ downturn in fortune on the field has begun to negatively impact the bottom line.
The level of activity of the club during the upcoming off-season could set the stage for either a turn-around or a third straight year of declining fan interest in 2017.
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