TV ratings booming for MLB teams – does baseball have NFL lockout to thank?

Players from the Detroit Tigers and Baltimore Orioles line up during the U.S. National Anthem during ceremonies before the Orioles’ home opening day MLB American League baseball game in Baltimore, Maryland, April 4, 2011. REUTERS/Joe Giza (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

A couple of weeks ago a buddy and I were talking about the NFL lockout and then we immediately shifted the conversation to our upcoming fantasy baseball drafts.

For whatever reason it didn’t hit me until then (probably because I’m not that smart) but I realized just how much Major League Baseball stands to gain if the players and owners continue to ruin the NFL.

It hasn’t even been a week, but already several MLB teams have set local TV ratings records. According to SportsBuinessDaily.com, the Orioles’ 4-0 start has translated to booming ratings for MASN. The network posted a 12.2 rating and 135,000 HHs in the Baltimore market for Monday’s home opener against the Tigers. For sake of comparison, the team averaged a 3.4 rating in Baltimore last season.

The site also mentions that last Friday’s game between the Astros and Phillies set an opening-day rating record and Sunday’s matchup broke the record for a regular-season telecast. The Rangers, Blue Jays, FOX and ESPN all did very well over the weekend, too.

Granted, it was opening weekend and the cold weather certainly encouraged people to stay indoors and flip on the tube. I’d like to see what the numbers look like in a couple of weeks when fans realize that there are still 140-plus games left to be played this season. Will the interest still be high in Baltimore if the Orioles go on a six-game losing streak? Will ESPN start to lose viewers when they begin showing only the Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies and Mets on a weekly basis like they have over the past couple of years? (Furthermore, how long before people start to pass on the ESPN Sunday Night broadcast because they can’t stand Bobby Valentine and Orel Hershier, both of whom are atrocious in the booth.)

That said, without daily NFL free agent news, I wouldn’t be shocked if people had a renewed sense of focus on baseball. The CBA mess has sucked most of the fun out of the NFL draft this year, so maybe fans (who are no doubt tired of the constant negative commentary surrounding the lockout) will stick with baseball long after the excitement from opening weekend fades away.

Either way, Bud Selig and Co. have to love the early TV numbers and probably wouldn’t mind seeing the lockout go well into August or September. Not having to compete with the NFL (even its offseason) has to be a plus for Selig’s league.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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