Credit: Mark Dent/Billy Penn

Everyone knows Philadelphia is an Eagles town. And the data — ratings numbers, how the experts guesstimate who’s watchiing what on the tube — bears that out. Barring deep postseason runs for the other professional sports teams, the Eagles are the kings . But what about the rest of those sports? Do we like to watch baseball, hockey or basketball more? And how do ratings for those sports compare to local ratings for national sporting events, like the World Cup?

Phillies, Flyers, Sixers

The majority of these teams’ games air on Comcast SportsNet or the Comcast Network. One Nielsen ratings point is equivalent to 29,538 local households. In the Philadelphia area, there are nearly 3 million TV households. The following data comes from Comcast SportsNet.  

  • Phillies 2015 season: 2.8 for Comcast SportsNet games, 2.9 for The Comcast Network games  
  • Flyers 2014-15 season: 2.1 for CSN, 1.8 for TCN
  • Sixers 2014-15 season: .7 for CSN, .5 for TCN

So the Phillies have been the most popular of these three teams, by a little. The Flyers, though, have seen less of a decline in actual attendance than the Phillies and Sixers in recent years and have also seen their TV ratings drop less.

As you might guess, ratings were down this year for all three franchises given their struggles. The Inquirer reported this summer that compared 2015 and 2014-15 ratings to 2011 ratings for Phillies, Sixers and Flyers games have dropped 65 percent, 72 percent and 36 percent respectively. The Flyers, despite missing the playoffs, drew slightly better ratings this last year than for the 2013-14 season.

But for as down as the ratings have been, Philly sports are still generally one of the top programs watched by people here. CSN was one of the top three most-watched channels in the area during Phillies games 60 percent of the time this summer. And the same was true for CSN during Flyers games for the 18-to-49 male demographic last season 77 percent of the time.


So by how much do the Eagles generally outpace Philly’s other pro sports franchises? By a lot.

The local rating for the Eagles’ season opener was a 14.6. For bigger games, the rating can get much higher. Last year’s December game against the Cowboys drew a 33.3 locally. It’s not uncommon for NFL games in local markets to command ratings in the 40s and 50s.

For one of the other three sports teams to beat the Eagles in ratings, it has to be a huge game, likely a game deep in the playoffs — and even then it’s not a guarantee. The Flyers, in 2012, drew a 12.4 in a second-round playoff game. That same year, when the Sixers were still decent, a playoff game drew a 3.8. But the Phillies have beaten the Eagles in ratings at least once. In 2010, with both teams playing on a Sunday night, the Phillies garnered a 27.7 locally for game three of an NLDS series against the Reds. The Eagles game that night drew a 24.1.    

Other sporting events

Know how everyone acknowledges the Sixers are tanking under GM Sam Hinkie (but don’t tell that to any Sixers employee)? Well Philadelphia’s viewing habits seem to bear that out. While games routinely draw under 1.0, the Draft drew a 5.0 locally. That means fewer than 30,000 local households watch Sixers basketball games on average, but nearly 150,000 households watched the draft this year and hoped Hinkie would make some good picks. The promise of something that doesn’t suck makes for more popular TV than anything he has assembled on the court.  

Women’s World Cup soccer also proved to be popular for the Philadelphia area, more so than Phillies, Flyers and Sixers games on average.’s Jonathan Tannenwald catalogued the local ratings throughout the tournament. And even the women’s first round game got a 3.0 rating, which is above the average for Philly’s non-Eagles teams. The championship game drew an 11.6.

Mark Dent is a reporter/curator at BillyPenn. He previously worked for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, where he covered the Jerry Sandusky scandal, Penn State football and the Penn State administration. His...