No, this isn’t about the damn statue.
Talk about burying the lede. A fascinating Canadian Press piece from Neil Davidson appeared in the Montreal Gazette, among other places, on Monday, under names like Mediocre Blue Jays winning at the turnstiles.
You could be forgiven for thinking that the piece was merely about attendance, but it’s actually a wide-ranging, Rogers-faced assessment of how the Jays have attracted fans this year though various mediums and in key demographics, complete with Rogers Media president of broadcasting Scott Moore crowing about the fabulousness of it all. Despite, y’know, this:
As of July 10, Sportsnet was averaging 544,000 viewers (aged two and over) for Jays’ broadcasts. That’s nine per cent down from the 2012 average of 595,000 at this point of the season but up 10 per cent from 2011′s average of 496,000 at the same time.
Don’t get me wrong, those are still terrifically strong numbers. And even in the last appointment-viewing stronghold of live sports, TV viewers are continually being siphoned off by other mediums and other options. There are lots of cable cutters and lots of game-in-an-hour folks out there, which might contribute to the dip.
But… uh… those alternatives existed a year ago, too, and ratings were up by nearly 100,000 per game. (In fact, this season Rogers pushed a number of digital-only viewers away from their in-house services, restricting access to Jays games on Rogers Anyplace TV to only those with cable subscriptions to the channels airing the games, having previously allowed anybody with any sort of Rogers account to watch. At least… from my limited understanding that’s what’s happened– please correct me if wrong.)
More importantly, despite all the glowing words about the fans coming through the turnstiles (who, y’know, probably bought their tickets back in February), the raised profile among the young and female demographics, the merchandise sales (all of the profit for which goes into MLB’s central revenue pool and gets split among all clubs, FYI), and the social media engagement with players (uh… at least until they all delete their Twitter accounts), are we really expected to believe that ownership is over the moon after adding $35-million to a payroll that was already above $80-million, only to find that– thanks to a thoroughly underwhelming on-field product– their main revenue-driver has taken a 9% step back?