What if the Astros Played and Nobody Watched? Well...
A funny thing happened in Houston over the weekend. The Astros were up against the Texans in the ratings. As one might suspect, the Texans were victorious in the ratings war -- if not on the field. But, no one thought, at least in the ratings, the Astros would be shut out. Turns out, they were.
ZERO POINT ZERO ZERO
According to a story from the Chron via Deadspin, the Astros scored a whopping 0.00 Nielsen rating on Sunday. When I first read that, I immediately thought of Dean Wormer from Animal House reading off Bluto's GPA. That came, of course, after he told Flounder, "Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son."
Zero point zero zero is a tough number to pull even for a cable access show. I'm fairly certain I could grab a couple random people off the street, video tape them dancing to "Blurred Lines," post it on YouTube and get more than 581 people (the number of houses with Nielsen meters in Houston) to watch it. Obviously, it doesn't mean no one was watching. Someone certainly by accident ran across the game on their way to watching a re-run of Real Housewives, but it is still an unbelievable thing to consider.
This is how far the Astros have fallen. They are not being helped by the fact that CSN Houston is only on about 40 percent of the televisions in Houston. Maybe if they were on U-Verse or DirecTV or Dish Network it would be better, but that's an optimistic point of view.
The fact is, the Astros are a God awful baseball team, a team that has been historically bad. They have lost their last 10 in a row and if they are unable to win more than one of their last, they will lose 110. That is an insane number.
Even so, landing on the ZERO at the bottom of the ratings dial is significant. Right now, it isn't hurting their bottom line. They have the lowest payroll in baseball and should still turn a profit even if TV revenues are in the toilet. But, next season it would be shocking to see sponsors begin deserting them, particularly if CSN continues to be deadlocked with major cable providers not named Comcast.
Then, it would seem clear that the Rockets will begin to feel the pinch. They are spending real money on a roster and they will be making good money from ticket sales, but taking losses on the TV side is not something they want, particularly with all the buzz surrounding the team.
Unfortunately, the Astros decided to do what they thought was best in re-tooling the roster at a time when their fledgling television network was just getting started. Very bad timing, indeed.