Story First Appeared in Crain's Detroit Business.
Fox Sports Detroit set another viewership record for Detroit Tigers games this season.
The cable network said today that its 152 Tigers telecasts averaged a 9.59 household rating, topping last year's record 9.21 average.
Numbers for the rest of Major League Baseball's markets were not available this afternoon, but it's believed the Tigers led all teams in local ratings average, as they did in 2012.
The ratings are based on data from New York City-based audience tracker The Nielsen Co.
Each local ratings point represents 18,459 households in the Detroit market.
The games that didn't air on FSD were televised on national channels.
The Tigers, who wrapped up their third consecutive American League Central Division championship last week, open the AL Division series on the road Friday against the Oakland Athletics.
Because of the team's popularity among viewers, FSD charges up to 25 percent more for a 30-second advertising spot during Tigers telecasts than it did a year ago, according to a person familiar with the rates who spoke to Crain's in February on the condition of anonymity.
Airing Tigers games is both lucrative and expensive for the network. Fox Sports Detroit was predicted by SNL Kagan to have $152.2 million in operating revenue against $112.5 million in expenses in 2013.
Fox Sports Detroit has aired Tigers games since 1998, when it won the broadcast rights from the now-defunct Pro-Am Sports System, owned at the time by the Washington Post Co.'s Post-Newsweek Stations Inc.
FSD inked 10-year deals, believed to be extensions of contracts already in place, in March 2008 with the Tigers and the Detroit Red Wings, both of which are owned by Little Caesars pizza chain co-founder Mike Ilitch.
The baseball team is believed to get $50 million annually from FSD under the contract. A portion of that rights fee is pooled under baseball's revenue-sharing system.
Detroit also gets another $50 million to $60 million from MLB's shared national TV rights deals; broadcast rights account for the majority of each team's annual revenue.
The Tigers and FSD are at the opposite end of the spectrum of the Houston Astros and Comcast SportsNet Houston.
On Sept. 22, the Astros road game against the Cleveland Indians drew a 0.0 rating, according to the Houston Chronicle.
That doesn't mean no one watched Cleveland beat Houston, but the numbers were so low — perhaps a few hundred — that it didn't rise to a measurable level. Most TV viewers in the market were watching the Houston Texans that Sunday.
The Astros finished a Major League-worst 51-111.
In recent days, it emerged that that Comcast SportsNet Houston — a regional network owned by the Astros, Houston Rockets and NBC Sports Group — hasn't paid the baseball team its rights fees for the past three months.
An involuntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition was filed Friday against CSN Houston in federal court by Comcast/NBC Universal, according to the Houston Chronicle.
The Astros, who are protesting the bankruptcy, own about 46 percent of the network, the Rockets own about 31 percent and Comcast/NBC Universal owns 22 percent, the newspaper said.
The network, which launched Oct. 1, 2012, reportedly is available in only 40 percent of the Houston television market and has been unable to reach carriage deals with providers such as DirecTV and Time Warner.
The Tigers have no equity stake in Fox Sports Detroit.
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