The Red Sox have surged past the Yankees in the AL East, and lead the division by 3.5 games at the All-Star break. Boston has the second-best record in the American League, a Cy Young candidate in Chris Sale, and a budding young star in 24-year old Mookie Betts.
Despite all that, TV ratings for the Red Sox are down 20 percent on NESN. And it get worse. From WEEI, earlier this month:
"Ratings have been trending downward for nearly the last decade. From 2004-2009, the Red Sox finished No. 1 among all local markets in TV ratings. They haven’t placed higher than No. 3 among all local markets since, and have been out of the top five since 2013."
Part of this year’s decline could be due to the odd schedule (25 day games through their first 79 games), and as the Globe pointed out, the Celtics and Bruins made lengthy playoff runs. Attendance is fine – only down a smidgen from 2016, according to ESPN – but the length of the games has been a problem. Via WEEI:
"Despite enacting nominal rule changes to increase the pace of play –– eliminating the four-pitch intentional walk, putting a two-minute limit on replay review –– the average game this season has taken a record 3 hours and 5 minutes to complete. Last month, the Red Sox played in three consecutive regular season contests that eclipsed the four-hour mark."
Maybe this is the new normal in all sports: Life is too short for the regular season. NFL regular season ratings were down. NBA regular season ratings were down. (Both were up in the playoffs.)
At the end of a long day of work, maybe the new normal is for Americans to flip on the news to see what the President said that has the media worked into a lather, scroll through your Facebook feed, and then check out a show on Netflix or Amazon Prime before going to bed.
You can quickly get the score and highlights of Game 90 for the Red Sox on your phone in a minute before you fall asleep. Or, if it’s only in the 7th inning, just wait until the morning for the result. There are still 72 games left in the regular season.
What would really be interesting is if the Patriots get off to an unbeaten start, and they dominate the news cycle in New England … while the Red Sox are hurtling toward an ALCS matchup with Houston.