Good morning …
In Friday’s Post-Dispatch, Dan Caesar dished the info on the Rams’ television ratings in their new home (Los Angeles) compared to the TV viewership in their old home (the STL.)
The TV ratings, via Caesar, tell quite a story. And I’ll add a comment after each point:
1. Fox’s rating for NFL games went down in Los Angeles this season compared to the Fox ratings in 2015.
Comment: Los Angeles must be a baseball town, eh? Los Angeles has always been, and always will be, an overrated football market. As I’ve written many times, the 1980s-era Rams team that regularly went to the playoffs and had future Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson setting rushing records averaged fewer fans per home game than the St. Louis Rams team that slogged through the worst five-season record (15-65) in NFL history.
But for some reason — probably because of LA’s massive population — the myth endures.
People assume that Los Angeles is passionate in its support of NFL football. But that isn’t the case. Yeah, the Rams’ bandwagon would fill quickly if the Rams ever gave front-running, short-attention span LA fans a reason to care for more than, say, two or three weeks. It will take a dynamic product and sustained success.
Good luck with that as long as this franchise is owned by Stan Kroenke and operated by Kevin Demoff. Since Demoff was hired as the franchise’s top executive in 2009, the Rams are 41-86-1 for a .324 winning percentage that ranks 30th among the 32 teams over the last eight seasons. Kroenke took over as the sole owner in 2011; the Rams are 33-62-1 under his, um, leadership. Kroenke’s .349 winning percentage ranks 29th among NFL owners over the past six seasons.
2. The Fox network aired 12 Rams games in Los Angeles this season; the contests averaged an 8.3 rating Nielsen rating in the nation’s second largest market. In 2015, the Rams’ lame-duck season in an alienated St. Louis market, local Fox affiliate KTVI Channel 2 posted an average 19.7 rating for 12 Rams TV games. Caesar also pointed out that the Rams were last in the local LA ratings the final two weeks of the 2016 regular season, topped by three other games aired on Christmas weekend and by the four games carried on New Year’s Day. According to Caesar, the LA Rams’ final three games averaged a 6.9 rating in Los Angeles. Last season, the Rams’ final three games averaged a 22.0 rating in St. Louis.
Comment: St. Louis is a baseball town, right? Isn’t that what the NFL propagandists claimed when the league commissioner and other cartel bosses tried to cook up a case to justify a Rams’ move to Los Angeles? When the NFL conducted a market survey back in early 2015, the report cited baseball’s popularity here. And Kroenke and his weasel attorney mentioned baseball and the Cardinals dominance of the market when filing their dishonest relocation application. This is absolutely hysterical, how the fear of the baseball Cardinals played a significant role in the gutless decision made by the league and Kroenke to run away from Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. because they didn’t think the big, badass NFL could overtake an MLB franchise in the STL market.
3. This should surprise no one of sound mind, but NFL ratings on Fox St. Louis fell this season, down to 8.8 after averaging 13.4 in the Rams’ final season here.
Comment: Of course the ratings would decline here; this pathetic team doesn’t reside or play in St. Louis anymore. Why would the ratings stay the same? There’s no longer a local connection, no longer a reason to be loyal, and it would be ludicrous to expect fans in St. Louis to care as much about a team that was yanked out of STL in a rigged process carried out by a corrupt league and possibly the worst human being (ownership level) in sports.
Here’s the one point that matters: despite getting a raw deal from the NFL cartel and betrayed by Kroenke, a larger share of Rams fans in St. Louis watched the team’s TV games compared to the fans in Los Angeles.
That isn’t my primary takeaway…
This is: the NFL is so poorly run, it fixed a franchise relocation that resulted in TV ratings plunging in both markets … the market that lost the team, and the market that gained a franchise.
One season in, the league is making a huge pile of mess in what is supposed to be a valuable LA market.
And it’s about to get sloppier.
The Rams had a disastrous reentry into LA. The San Diego Chargers have the option to move to Los Angeles and join Kroenke in his new stadium (which is scheduled to open in 2019.) Chargers owner Dean Spanos has until Jan. 15 to choose that option, and if he declines to move to Los Angeles, the LA option transfers to the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders also have Las Vegas on hold.
So now you have two cities in limbo for the second consecutive season.
Will San Diego or Oakland lose its team?
If the Chargers move to LA, will they have an audience? They’d be a mediocre team, setting up as the No. 2 team in a two-franchise market that isn’t passionate for NFL football. And San Diego sports fans dislike LA, so how many San Diego fans would make the drive to attend a Los Angeles Chargers’ home game?
And if the Raiders move in with Kroenke’s team in Los Angeles … that’s a potentially damaging development for the Rams, because the Raiders undoubtedly would be more popular. Disagree with that? Well, consider this view from the Los Angeles Times.
And what’s the point of having two teams in LA if it means abandoning a quality NFL market in San Diego or Oakland — and risk losing even more TV ratings in the city that’s vacated? These money-grabbing franchise shuffles create perpetual uncertainty, hard feelings, are bad for business and bring down TV ratings.
Nice work, Roger Goodell.
Thanks for reading …