Astros Get Fewer Than 1,000 Viewers, Lose Ratings War to WNBA

On Saturday, a good friend gave me a pair of extra tickets to the Astros-Angels game at Minute Maid Park. To say it was sparsely attended would be generous, but the few thousand people on hand in the park eclipsed by a wide margin those watching on TV. According to a report from Deadspin and the Chron, that game got a .04 Nielsen rating, which is the equivalent of about 1,000 viewers, a record low for the Astros in Houston.

To make matters worse, and to further illustrate just how bad it has gotten for the 'Stros and CSN Houston, a WNBA game between Chicago and Minnesota on NBA-TV drew about 1,500 viewers. Just to sum that up, women's professional basketball in the northern part of the country outpaced Major League Baseball's local team. My guess is reruns of Restaurant Impossible on the Food Network had ratings that felt like the Super Bowl in comparison.

It's bad enough that the team is going to have its third 100-loss season in a row. But, with the apathy shown by team ownership in fixing this CSN Houston disaster, it's almost criminal what Jim Crane and the Astros are doing to baseball in Houston. They are getting paid $80 million annually by CSN to broadcast the games. I wonder if they have an out clause.

Being at the game, I can attest to the fact that the most exciting part of the night was how my friend's daughter followed the wave around the stadium, mouth agape. As disappointing as the foot-long dogs were, they were no match for the play on the field in the loss. But even all that didn't compare to the dismal showing on TV. Think about that 1,000 number for a moment. Double that number fit into Jones Hall. That's a medium-size apartment complex. There are banquet halls around town that can easily hold that many people.

More than half a million watched the Texans versus the Titans. Half a million.

To hell with CSN getting out of its contract. I wonder if they can get their money back.

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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke