Subscribe for 99¢
Party of 5? Competitive NL Central in for taut 2nd half

Cardinals shortstop Paul DeJong (left) reaches for the ball before tagging out Seattle's Dylan Moore at second on a stolen-base attempt in a game on Wednesday, July 3, 2019, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Yaw-n-n-n.

That was the figurative response of St. Louis television viewers to this year’s marquee sporting events of the summer, the Women’s World Cup championship match and Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game.

Both had comparative disappointing ratings performances this week after previously having been pillars of ratings strength.

We’ll start with baseball.

The St. Louis rating for this year’s game is the worst on records that date to 2002, as was the number for the Home Run Derby.

How much have they fallen? According to Nielsen, which tracks viewership, 8.2 percent of homes with a TV in the market tuned in to KTVI (Channel 2) Tuesday night to see Fox’s telecast of the American League’s 4-3 victory over the National League. The previous low was 10.4, in 2016. This year, St. Louis ranked eighth nationally after many years of ranking in the top three.

The lack of interest locally this year could be tied to the fact that only one Cardinal, shortstop Paul DeJong, was in the game. Plus the Redbirds haven’t made the playoffs for three years and are at just .500 this season.

In the bigger picture, the ASG has been in decline on TV in recent seasons. The last five have averaged an 11.8 rating in St. Louis after the five before that were at 17.9. The last four occupy the four bottom slots of the last 18 telecasts.

Nationally, despite a fine effort by Fox in having players wear microphones so they could talk with those in the booth while play was in progress, this year’s game produced the lowest rating on record for the event. It drew a 5.0 figure, the second year in a row the game had its worst rating. The number last year was 5.2.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals’ locally produced telecasts (on Fox Sports Midwest) are down about 8 percent over last season. The decline undoubtedly has been fueled by a putrid performance by the team in May that corresponded with the Blues being in the midst of their unexpected run to the NHL title. Despite the Cards being mediocre, they’re in solid contention in the NL Central Division and ratings are expected to increase down the stretch as long as they are in the race.

SOCCER SOCKED

Baseball isn’t the only sport suffering a downturn in St. Louis ratings. The figure for this year’s Women’s World Cup title contest fell by a whopping 52 percent from the 2015 game. Both resulted in victories for the Red, White and Blue.

Four years ago, St. Louis was No. 2 nationally in ratings for the title game and No. 1 for the tourney as a whole. This time, the Gateway City clunked in at No. 27 for the championship match and tied for 27th for the entire event.

The U.S. beat Netherlands 2-0 on Sunday in Europe to claim the crown. Fox showed the game, and according to Nielsen 9.9 percent of homes in the St. Louis market with a TV turned into local affiliate KTVI (Channel 2) for the telecast. That was a huge drop from the 20.5 rating here for the Americans’ 2-0 victory over Japan in the decisive match four years ago.

A contributing factor certainly was starting times, which were affected by geography. Sunday’s match was played in Lyon, France, which is seven hours ahead of the Central time zone in the U.S. So it was 10 a.m. in St. Louis when that contest began. The 2015 finale was played in Vancouver, British Columbia, which is two hours behind St. Louis. That game kicked off at 6 p.m. in the Midwest.

But that discrepancy still wouldn’t be expected to create a drop of more than half the rating.

Nationally, the game Sunday was seen by an estimated 15.9 million U.S. viewers. That number is the combination of figures from Fox, its streaming devices and Telemundo Deportes — which had the Spanish-language telecast. That’s down from the 25.4 million viewers the 2015 title match drew.

The decline nationally, 37 percent, is significant. But certainly not as eye-popping as the mammoth drop in St. Louis.

Still, the soccer game Sunday drew a better rating in St. Louis than most Cardinals telecast have drawn this season and obliterated the 1.7 figure the most recent men’s World Cup title contest generated. Then again, the Americans not only weren’t in that match (France defeated Croatia 4-2 in 2018), they didn’t even make the tournament that year.

The 2015 Women’s World Cup final remains the best-rated soccer telecast in both the U.S. and in St. Louis.

All-Star Game and Home Run Derby TV ratings

BY THE NUMBERS

Ratings in recent years for Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game and Home Run Derby nationally and in St. Louis:

Notes • All-Star Games on Fox (KTVI, Channel 2 locally), home run contests on ESPN. The rating is the percent of homes with a TV tuning in. 2009 events held in St. Louis

Unknown field 1 ALL-STAR GAME Unknown field 2 HR DERBY Unknown field 3
Year Nat. StL Nat. StL
2019 6.2 8.2 4.5 4.3
2018 6.5 10.6 4.4 4.9
2017 6.5 12.1 5.5 6
2016 6.4 10.4 3.2 6.5
2015 7.7 17.9 4.2 11.3
2014 7.9 14.3 3.4 5.8
2013 8.1 16.4 4.1 7.4
2012 8.1 20.5 4.2 8.4
2011 7.9 17.8 4 7.8
2010 9.1 20.5 4 10.2
2009 10.4 37 5.1 18.9
2008 11 20.3 5.5 7.7
2007 9.9 18.9 4.3 10.9
2006 10.6 20.7 4.4 8.1
2005 9.8 23.3 4.1 8
2004 10.2 18.8 4.7 6.1
2003 11.1 22.5 3.5 8.1
2002 11.4 15.4 5 7.5

Women's World Cup final TV ratings

Rank Market Rating
1 Austin, Texas 16.65
2 San Diego 14.9
3 Washington 13.12
4 Kansas City 12.94
5 Seattle 12.71
6 Portland, Ore. 12.39
7 San Francisco 12.34
8 Baltimore 11.99
9 Boston 11.97
10 W. Palm Beach, Fla. 11.44
11 Los Angeles 11.39
12 Philadelphia 11.26
13 Cleveland 11.03
14 Phoenix 11.02
15 Tampa-St. Pete 10.67
16 Columbus, Ohio 10.63
17 Dallas 10.61
18 Richmond, Va. 10.47
19 Fort Myers, Fla. 10.41
20 Raleigh, N.C. 10.19
21 Jacksonville, Fla. 10.1
22 Milwaukee 10.06
23 Denver 10.01
24 Atlanta 10
25 Louisville 9.96
26 Tulsa, Okla. 9.96
27 St. Louis 9.94

Dan Caesar is the sports media critic for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.