This Red Sox season is proof that some hangovers linger longer than others.
The defending World Series champions have meandered through the followup to their extraordinary 2018 season, and at this writing were outside looking in at the American League playoff picture.
An opportunity to spark the team — and fans’ interest — fizzled out Wednesday when president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski chose to stand pat at the MLB trading deadline.
If the Red Sox are going to be around in October to defend their title, it’s going to have to happen with a roster that has been lethargic in doing so thus far — and one that, not surprisingly, hasn’t captured the attention of television viewers quite to the degree it did a season ago.
Through the All-Star break, Red Sox ratings on NESN were down 14 percent from the same point a year ago in the Boston designated market area. They averaged a 5.31 rating before the All-Star break, per Sports Business Journal, citing Nielsen Media Research data.
Still, that was the seventh-highest average rating among the 29 US-based major league teams on a regional cable network baseball broadcast. (Toronto Blue Jays ratings are not included.)
The Brewers on Fox Sports Wisconsin had the highest rating (6.34), followed by the Cardinals (6.22), Twins (6.12), Indians (5.76), Reds (5.71), and Pirates (5.38).
The Padres have had the highest increase year-over-year, up 81 percent (4.17 rating).
The Yankees, who lead the American League East, are down 26 percent on the Yes Network (2.92).
Overall, MLB ratings were down 4 percent.
It should be noted that while these ratings offer an apples-to-apples comparison between regional cable networks in different markets, they do not tell the complete picture of Red Sox viewership.
There are eight other DMAs in the NESN/Red Sox region that aren’t part of the Boston viewership. The numbers also do not include out-of-home viewership (such as groups of fans watching at a bar or restaurant), or NESNgo app and online viewership.
In the period through the July 7 All-Star Game, the average number of people who watched a Red Sox game across New England in those nine DMAs was approximately 700,000, excluding out-of-home measurement and NESNgo, which is averaging just under 10,000 per game, according to NESN.
Red Sox ratings were affected early by an 11-game road trip to start the season, and the Bruins’ run to the Stanley Cup Final as well as the Celtics’ two rounds of NBA playoff games had some affect in the first half.
The broadcasts averaged 882,000 viewers in 15 games from the All-Star break through July 30.
One last thought: I doubt this has even a scintilla of impact on viewership, but NESN’s increasing habit of cutting it close coming back from commercial breaks is extremely annoying. When the broadcast returned from a commercial break Wednesday night, Rick Porcello was already in his windup and about to deliver a meatball that the Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier would hit for a home run. They’re going to miss something important at some point.
Too easy listening?
“The Greg Hill Show” got off to a slow start in its first week on WEEI, though it was amusing that it opened Monday with the Zac Brown Band’s “Chicken Fried,” a clever way of addressing longstanding rumors (dating to 2013) that WEEI might end up a country music station.
Hill, who had been at WAAF for 28 years, is a staple in the market, but his laidback style seemed unfamiliar to longtime WEEI listeners.
The show did lack energy in its first couple of days, but an adjustment period is understandable, with Hill, co-hosts Danielle Murr and Nick “Fitzy” Stevens trying to mesh with holdover producers Chris Curtis and Ken Laird. (Anecdotally, I did receive quite a bit of correspondence from listeners happy that Stevens is getting a real shot.)
I do get the sense that those who raced to social media to say that they had already given up on the show (many who were trying to appease Kirk Minihane, who has been burying it on his Barstool podcast) already had their minds made up before listening.
Though Hill’s show on WAAF had the same share in the spring as WEEI’s “Mut and Callahan” (6.5), it’s going to be an uphill battle to win over an audience that was used to a more combative approach. But it deserves time to develop. Even Mike Salk got a year.
HBO Sports will re-air its documentary on former Patriots and Dolphins star and Pro Football Hall of Famer Nick Buoniconti Monday at 8 p.m. on its HBO2 service. The documentary, titled “The Many Lives of Nick Buoniconti,’’ premiered in February. Buoniconti, who for 23 years was a co-host of HBO’s “Inside The NFL,’’ died Tuesday at age 78 . . . Former Patriots linebacker and current 98.5 The Sports Hub host Ted Johnson will join NBC Sports Boston as analyst on the network’s pre- and postgame Patriots programming this season.