Huge thanks to the DC Sports Blog for tipping us off to these rankings. The Sports Business Journal released it's annual midseason ratings report. The Phillies finished second with an 8.87 average local TV rating. That was just behind the St. Louis Cardinals, who came in with a 9.06 average rating. It should be noted here that there is essentially nothing to do in the Midwest other than farm and enjoy the unfunny stylings of Larry The Cable Guy (I'm generalizing).
The Phillies rating is up 29% from last year (!!!). That's impressive considering that their popularity is nothing new. One explanation for that? Cliff Lee. Magical steed, yo.
The Phillies are also second in total household viewership. On average, 268,000 households tune into every Phillies game. Only the Yankees have a larger audience, with an average of 308,000 households per game. That's incredible considering the fact that the New York market is more than twice the size of Philly (7.5M households to 3M).
It gets better.
According to ESPN, the Phillies are first in attendance… ahead of the Yankees. They have an average attendance of 45,482. That's 104% of capacity, easily the highest in baseball.
Where does that put them in terms of popularity? Seventh.
In the latest Harris Poll, which surveyed over 2,000 people between June 13th and June 20th, the Phillies finished seventh in voting. That's down from fourth last year. I know a relatively small sample size is usually indicative of a larger audience, but this makes no sense. The poll puts – in order – the Yankees, Red Sox, Braves (???), Cubs, Dodgers, and Mets ahead of the Phillies.
Yeah, they should find a new group to sample.
Just to shed a little light, I worked for the MLB Shop a few years ago. Part of my daily routine was to pull numbers of top selling items, teams, styles, etc. The Phillies were routinely between 4 and 7 on the list. This was in 2008 and 2009. Their popularity has only grown. [In case you're wondering, Derek Jeter always had the most popular selling jersey- it wasn't even close.]
Before you go getting all up in arms over the popularity poll, remember that a very small group of people were surveyed. I'd put more stock in the TV ratings and attendance figures, which are just incredible.
UPDATE: Per CSN, the Phillies have set a ratings record for the network:
So far this season, Phillies games on Comcast SportsNet are averaging an 8.8 household rating (267,000 households) through 47 games, a 22% increase over last season’s first-half 7.2 ratings average.
Almost exactly what was reported by the Sports Business Journal.