The Royals suffered their worst season in the standings in over a decade, but it didn’t hurt local television ratings as much as it hurt the loss column. In figures produced annually by Maury Brown at Forbes Magazine, the Royals finished sixth in baseball in prime time ratings on their regional sports network, Fox Sports Kansas City (FSKC). According to Forbes, the Royals averaged a 4.89 rating, or 44,000 household viewers in prime time. You can see the full list of ratings for teams here.
Ratings represent a percentage of overall households in the metro, so with Kansas City having a smaller number of households that could boost their rating a bit as opposed to a city like New York, where the Yankees have a lower rating than the Royals, but still have over six times as many viewers. However the Royals did draw more overall viewers than several markets larger than Kansas City, such as markets for the White Sox, Giants, Marlins, Padres, and Orioles. In fact, the Royals drew about as many viewers as the Tampa Bay Rays, who won 90 games and play in a metro with twice as many households in the metro.
The Royals 2018 TV numbers represent a sharp decline over 40% from their 2017 numbers, when the team was in contention until the last few weeks of the season. However it appears those ratings went up a bit in the second half of the season. According to this report from the Star in July, the ratings were just 4.7 at that point, while they finished at 4.89. It seems a few more households tuned in for the second half when the team featured younger players and played significantly better.
Royals prime time local TV ratings
Source: Forbes Magazine
The ratings are unsurprisingly down from their World Series seasons and even down from their 2013 season, when they drew a 6.39. Still, the Royals have retained some of the fanbase that came on during the competitive years, as their rating this year is still a big improvement over their last 90+ loss season in 2012, when they drew just a 3.76 rating.
The Royals will enter the final year of the television deal with FSKC in 2019. According to Sam Mellinger, they are not even allowed to negotiate with another network until that deal expires after the season, and it is unclear who would even compete for the broadcast rights. They have begun talks with FSKC on a new deal, and in any deal they are expected to get at least twice as much in annual revenue than the $25 million they currently receive.