As the second half of the baseball season gets under way, the Washington Nationals are enjoying their best TV and radio ratings since the team moved to the District from Montreal. The Nats enter the weekend in first place in the National League East. With young stars like Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg, the team has become a great story.
The broadcasts on MASN, MASN2 and WDCW-TV (Ch. 50) have seen an upswing of 54 percent over last season. Their 2.2 average rating -- or about 55,000 homes -- puts the Nationals ahead of the Capitals, who averaged a 1.8 rating last season, and the Wizards, who averaged a 1.6 rating. Meanwhile, the radio broadcasts on 106.7 the Fan are hitting all-time highs with more than 70,000 listeners in the May ratings book.
The Nationals' game June 23 against the Orioles pulled a 3.9 rating locally, which is the highest ever for a regular-season Fox baseball broadcast in Washington.
So how do the Nationals' ratings compare with the Redskins?
When the Redskins played host to the Jets on Dec. 4, 2011, locally the game had a 21.4 rating with a 47 share on WTTG-TV (Ch. 5). Let's be fair: The Redskins have one of the NFL's most loyal fan bases and only play 16 games.
The Capitals are a better gauge. As one of the best teams in the NHL recently (at least in the regular season), the Caps have built a strong fan base, and they have registered double-digit increases in their ratings over each of the past five years. The Caps have the eighth-highest local TV ratings in the NHL among U.S.-based teams, according to the Sports Business Journal.
The broadcasts of Stanley Cup playoff series between the Caps and Bruins averaged a record 5.90 rating for the four games on Comcast SportsNet. The Caps also have become regulars on national TV, bringing the team a higher profile.
What does that mean? As the Nationals get set for a run at the NL East title, the TV and radio ratings will continue to rise, building a bigger base for 2013 and beyond.
Examiner columnist Jim Williams is a seven-time Emmy Award-winning TV producer, director and writer. Check out his blog, Watch this!, on washingtonexaminer.com.