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Cardinals Downturn Reflected in Attendance, TV Ratings

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.

cards-o-day-rain-200-150However, 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
2016 3,444,490 -2.2% 38 43 0.469 -5 -34
2015 3,520,889 -0.6% 55 26 0.679 29 8
2014 3,540,649 5.1% 51 30 0.630 21 -6
2013 3,369,769 3.3% 54 27 0.667 27 8
2012 3,262,109 5.4% 50 31 0.617 19 10
2011 3,093,954 -6.3% 45 36 0.556 9 -14
2010 3,301,218 -1.3% 52 29 0.642 23 12
2009 3,343,252 -2.6% 46 35 0.568 11 0
2008 3,432,917 -3.4% 46 35 0.568 11 6
2007 3,552,180 4.3% 43 38 0.531 5 -13
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
2004 3,048,427 4.7% 53 28 0.654 25 10
2003 2,910,386 -3.4% 48 33 0.593 15 -8
2002 3,011,756 -3.1% 52 29 0.642 23 -3
2001 3,109,578 -6.8% 54 28 0.659 26 7
2000 3,336,493 3.4% 50 31 0.617 19 23
1999 3,225,334 0.9% 38 42 0.475 -4 -18
1998 3,195,691 21.3% 48 34 0.585 14 13
1997 2,634,014 -0.8% 41 40 0.506 1 -14
1996 2,654,718 48 33 0.593 15

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.

ratings-tv-forbes-2016-820

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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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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3 Responses to “Cardinals Downturn Reflected in Attendance, TV Ratings”

  1. crdswmn says:

    I guess we will see next season. I continue to believe Mike Matheny is a significant part of the problem, but if the Cardinals play well next season, I will watch. If they don’t, I won’t. The “playing well” includes defense. I will not watch poor defense, no matter what the W/L record is.

  2. JumboShrimp says:

    Am dubious Brandon Miss will be back.
    The case for retaking him is lefty power.
    OTOH, moss is not speedy and not a great hitter. it might require $16.8 to retain him. I figure we will not tag him for a compensatory draft pick, because he might never get an offer from another team.

  3. blingboy says:

    Its not really baseball anymore. Its just two teams meeting to generate statistics. MLB and the MLBPA are doing all they can to eliminate everything else, and they are succeeding.

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