In 2022 the Cincinnati Reds lost 100 games. And with all of that losing, and with trading away anything that wasn’t nailed down in spring training or at the trade deadline, there weren’t a lot of reasons to tune in to games. Cincinnati didn’t exactly inspire a lot in the offseason, or spring training, or even in the early part of the season. But once the club began to call up some rookies in mid-May to early June, the team started to perform, pick up wins, and go on a run to playoff contention that they held until there were only two days left in the year. That made a lot of people turn their television back to Bally Sports Ohio for games this season.

The Sports Business Journal posted the ratings for 29 of the 30 teams in baseball – Toronto’s ratings are not accounted for. Four teams saw their rating increase by more than 35%. All four of them were actually at 65% or higher. Three of the teams with improved ratings make plenty of sense. The Reds were up 65% from 2022. So were the Orioles, who just won 101 games and had the best record in the American League. The Texas Rangers saw the largest increase, nearly doubling their ratings and were up 99% over last season. They won 90 games in 2023 after winning just 68 in 2022.

But the team that had the second largest increase in ratings? The Pittsburgh Pirates. They did get out to a hot start, beginning the season by going 20-9 through April. They didn’t win 20 games in May and June combined and never got close to recovering. Their rating jumped up 72% from 2022, though.

While the Reds ratings were up big time, how did their ratings in their market compare to other teams across baseball? Let’s first talk about where the stood in 2022. Despite the way that year played out, the Reds were actually 11th in ratings across baseball. Don’t confuse that number with viewers – some markets are a lot larger than others and lower ratings can still mean far more viewers.

In 2023 the Reds jumped up to 4th in Major League Baseball ratings with a 4.74 rating. They were only behind the Phillies, Cardinals, and Brewers. Yep – three of the top four teams in ratings come from the National League Central. The Pirates were at #6 as the division flexed their television muscle.

With the right moves this offseason the ratings could go up once again. Fans have already gotten behind – at least on television (though attendance was also up at the park) – this team and have seen some exciting baseball. Imagine the excitement if the club goes out and adds some exciting talent to it.

45 Responses

  1. rednat

    this is where baseball is unfair. even if we have higher “ratings” than LA and NY The revenue is much less due to sheer number.
    this is where the “small market ” argument caries some weight

    • Ken

      Absolutely the small vs. large market impacts the Reds. Management has sent some pretty good players out of town, like Nick Castellanos. That’s the bleeding that must stop. Meanwhile, the Yankees haven’t had a losing season in 31 years. Doesn’t anyone question MLB’s sensibilities in allowing the rich to get richer, and the poor to stay poor? Only a sensible salary cap can balance the playing field, but there are no Pete Rozelles in MLB. No parity allowed, because they’re desperate for a Yankees-Dodgers matchup every year to boost ratings.

      • Doug Gray

        Most “poor” teams don’t want a cap. They want teams to go over the luxury tax so they get free money from them, and can also whine and complain to the public that “it’s not fair”.

      • BK

        @Doug, can you provide a source for this claim?

      • Jim Walker

        @BK>> Is there a “poor” team that wants a floor? If they don’t want a floor then they also don’t want a cap because just like a horse and carriage went together in the olden days, caps and floors go together in the current sports world.

      • BK

        The Owners’ opening offer in the last CBA negotiation included a floor–this fact was widely reported. Doug makes a great point that small market teams collect revenue-sharing dollars from other teams. This happens in other pro leagues as well. However, this doesn’t prove the point that small market owners, namely the Reds, wouldn’t prefer a more level playing field.

      • Doug Gray

        BK, much like the whole service time manipulation stuff…. it’s impossible to “prove” unless you can get them on the record saying it and they just aren’t dumb enough to say it out loud.

        With that said, in the latest CBA stuff there were four teams who voted against the CBA – and Andy Martino reported that more would have voted against it if the luxury tax number was higher.

        The four teams who voted no? The Reds, Tigers, Dbacks, and the Angels.

        Only one of those teams has come even remotely close to the tax threshold in the last five years.

        Let’s look at what the Athletics are doing…. they could have gotten more money for their stadium in Oakland, had more seats in Oakland than they’ll have in Vegas, but they don’t get that guaranteed “small market” revenue sharing money in Oakland. They’ll get that in Vegas.

      • Optimist

        Not wanting a cap is unspoken on the owner’s side, but adamant on the MLBPA side. It’s a bit of a perverse incentive both ways – losing for $ on the team side, splitting the union into big$ FAs vs. journeymen/MiLBers on the player’s side. May change when big teams can simply buy WS appearences (they’re sort of close now, but really can only buy playoff spots, and often not even that); or if union democracy at the MiLB end favors floor income/benefits.

        I’m certain there are Economic PhD theses on this in sports, if not baseball specifically.

      • BK

        Thanks for the explanation. Games, by definition, have rules to afford all players a fair shot at winning–hence the phrase “level playing field.”

        Most teams use their revenue-sharing dollars for player payroll. The reality is that the revenue-sharing dollars come far from creating a level playing field. So, the fact that more teams would have voted against a more uneven playing field supports Ken’s point as does the fact that the other major pro leagues follow a cap/floor model with defined percentages of revenues for Owner and Players.

        Lastly, one could write a couple of books on the A’s dance with Oakland. While revenue-sharing may be a factor, much more is involved in that case. I will only be slightly surprised if the Relocation Committee shoots down their move.

        That said, thanks again for the explanation.

    • Bubba Woo

      I’m sick and tired of the small market complaint. The Dodgers and the Reds changed ownership in roughly the same time period. The Dodgers ownership paid 2 Billion 10 years ago for the team. The Castellinis paid a tenth of that five years earlier. In the fifteen years they’ve owned the Reds, the value of their investment has quadrupled. It is a fair system. Time and time again, it has been shown that most players hit their peak in their mid to late 20s, which for most players lines up with their time under team control. And even if it doesn’t, teams have a chance to lock in stars like EDLC early at a lower cost.

      As excited as I am about the Reds right now, I have no doubt that in a couple of years, when EDLC, McCain, CES, Steer, and Marte become arbitration eligible, Phil and Bob will be back to whining about being a small market, despite making 8 figure profits the prior years. #StillSellTheTeamBob

      • Ken

        Then how do Yankees manage to go 31 years without a losing season? It isn’t because they’re geniuses. They have an unfair advantage that teams in other pro sports don’t have.

  2. Klugo

    So will BS be carrying Reds baseball next season?

    • Doug Gray

      We’ll all find that one out together.

      • Bubba Woo

        Even if we dont agree on the Market size debate, i think we can all agree that we’ll miss Bally Sports, if only for “Attractive Women learn to play Golf” show that airs after Reds games.

  3. Daytonnati

    “If you build it, they will come.”

  4. Doc

    A number of RLN commenters pointed out as the 2023 games progressed that the team was well ahead of last year’s pace. It may not have inspired overwhelming enthusiasm, but it clearly showed that this season was likely to be better and inspired cautious optimism, except maybe in the perennial Debbie Downers.

  5. RedBB

    Doug or anyone else…Is the ratings number listed a percentage of TV households or something ? SO for the Reds does 4.74 mean 4.74% of TV households watched theReds on average? If not what does the number mean? TIA

    • Jim Walker

      Yes, more or less it means 4.74% of whatever was monitored watched the Reds. But what is “TV” anymore? Do I count in that when I am streaming the Reds on a tablet or PC via my cable subscription? That is how I watch virtually every Reds game.

      Or, how about the folks who subscribed directly to Bally to stream the games on their TV or whatever devices they used? Or the out of market folks who watched on MLBTV?

      • Jim Walker

        And oops, I omitted the games on AppleTV and Peacock. Are they included?

      • Doug Gray

        I don’t believe MLBtv users count because they aren’t in the Cincinnati market and these are local ratings. But I do believe that we are at a point where locals streaming through whatever internet connected device does count.

      • KevinIn

        Can I subscribe differently two Bally Sports without having xfinity/comcast? I live in Fort Wayne and the cable is so expensive. I think the only way I can gets Reds baseball is through cable. I would be blacked out through MLB tv, correct? Also anyway of seeing what rating are through Bally Sports Indiana for Reds games?

  6. rednat

    I think KEN Brought up a great example with Castellanos. good player yes. but 20 mil a year for 5 years? that is a lot to ask for a team like the reds to take on. having said that if we did have NC I am quite sure we would have made the playoffs this year.

    • RedBB

      Not sure about that. Castellanos was only a 1.6bWAR player this year mainly because of his awful defense. He would have taken AB’s away from Benson who himself was a 1.6 bWAR player by just platooning.

      • JayTheRed

        Honestly, I would rather have Benson over Castellanos. More speed a little better defense.

    • David

      Did Castellanos pitch this year?

      Because…..pitching is where the Reds needed the most help.
      Castellanos would have played right field instead of Benson and a couple of other guys that platooned with Benson. Fairchild, sometimes Fraley, and Wil Myers earlier.

      Certainly, Castellanos was better than Fairchild and Myers, but was he THAT much better than Fraley/Benson? Not sure of the AB breakdown for each, but Benson did fine (generally) in Right field as a hitter in that position, and was surely a better defensive outfielder than Castellanos.
      I think RedBB has the right of it here.

  7. RedsGettingBetter

    I’m really afraid about Front Office not adding some talent to the Reds in the offseason… I hope i’m wrong…

    • West Larry

      The reds lose both Moose’s and Votto 25 million each. They should be able to spend 40 million on free agents and about match last years budget. What am I missing?

      • JayTheRed

        Griffey’s contract is finally over too! They will most likely pay Votto the 7 million buyout for his option.

      • West Larry

        yes-and they buy out the third catchers 2222.5 million for 250,000, Some more spare change!

    • Votto4life

      We won’t have long to find out. Many here have stated repeatedly that it was this off season that would tell the tale. Well, the off season is here.

      We will find out in the next 10-12 weeks whether the faith some here have in the Castellinis is warranted.

      • JB

        Yep. I was stating in the spring that this off season will tell you how the Reds will be ran. Will they spend money or is 55-75 million their window from now on.

      • Votto4life

        JB, I think the 2024 payroll will be around $65 to $75 Million. Having said that, I really hope I am wrong.

    • Optimist

      FA – Sonny Gray 3 years/50m
      Sign and Trade – Juan Soto 2 years/80m – a package of MLB and prospect(s) to acquire.

      2024 Payroll still under $100m

      • TR#1

        I respect your opinion but those numbers are grossly understated for those two. Gray will get 4 years at $20 million/year or more. And there is a better chance of me riding a unicorn to work on Monday than Juan Soto signing away a free agent year for 2 years/80million. Scott Boras wouldn’t take 2 years $120 million and give up UFA in 2025.

      • Optimist

        “Grossly”? I’ll be mildly surprised if Sonny gets both 4 and 20. He’s 33, and very, very good, but not Verlander/Scherzer/Degrom good.

        As for Soto, it’s the opposite – he’s 25, so make it the most expensive short-term rental contract ever, and make him a FA at age 27 when he can sign the Trout/Ohtani/Harper 10-12 year whopper deal. Sure, Boras may not want anything less than a billion, but the lure is the highest single season deal – I just looked and that is now Scherzer at 43m, so offer Soto 2/45.

        Overall point is they have enough space to spend more for shorter terms than the Moose/Castellanos deals, and there’s talent available not needing the Votto/Bailey length of contracts.

  8. shaggy

    I just hope mlb app lets you watch games in your market or bally sports gets back on youtube tv so I can actually watch games again

    • West Larry

      If you are in market-Ohio to Georgia border you are in market-I don’t know how far east/west this in market is. I live just above the Georgia border. I was blocked by the reds and Braves on home games. but on away games as well! A braves series from L A and a Reds series from phoenix
      in mid season were also blocked. Having mlb tv doesn’t help you on reds games.


    Reds got 2 million in attendance and were entertaining and had lots of eyeballs on TV and nationally for very good reasons.

    Now. Win a championship. Spend money to fix holes on a young roster and a year from now we are watching home playoff games at GABP

    Go reds

  10. Old-school

    Reds got $2 million in attendance and were entertaining and had lots of eyeballs on TV and nationally for very good reasons.

    Now. Win a championship. Spend money to fix holes on a young roster and a year from now we are watching home playoff games at GABP

    Go reds

  11. Biggy

    Hi Doug, I am assuming this is bad for the Reds and the Bally’s agreement, and that they will try to keep us. So no more easier viewing options possibly in the future for us out there.

    • Biggy

      I see this has already been brought up. Move along, nothing to see here. 🙂 Go REDS! Boo viewing options!

  12. doctorrockett

    Thoughts on the Jerry DiPoto “sustainability” comments? Might be a bit of insight into Cincy front office thinking…