The White Sox went 5-1 against the Cubs this season, but their broadcasts on NBC Sports Chicago swept the series against the Cubs’ Marquee Sports Network.
According to Nielsen ratings, NBCSCH outrated Marquee in all five of the games that aired on both networks. ESPN took the game Aug. 8 for “Sunday Night Baseball” and aired it nationally on ABC.
NBCSCH posted its biggest number – and victory – of the series with a 3.8 rating for the Sox’ 17-13 win Friday. Marquee had a 1.4. In the Chicago DMA (designated market area), one ratings point equals 31,266 households.
NBCSCH’s next biggest number and victory came in the Sox’ 13-1 win Sunday, when it posted a 3.3 to Marquee’s 1.4. In the Sox’ 4-0 win Aug. 7, NBCSCH won 2.8-1.7. In their 8-6, 10-inning win Aug. 6, the network won 2.5-1.9. And in the Cubs’ 7-0 win Aug. 28, NBCSCH won 2.0-1.3. That game went head-to-head with the Bears-Titans preseason game.
For some perspective, in 2019 – the last 162-game season and the teams’ last season together on NBCSCH – the Sox’ average rating was 0.9 and the Cubs’ 4.1. The Cubs moved to Marquee in 2020, when the season ended up being shortened to 60 games because of the pandemic.
The Sox’ ratings have mirrored their rebuild. In 2018, when they lost 100 games, they had a 0.7 season average. After going 72-89 in 2019, they went 35-25 and made the playoffs last season, which led to a 1.8 average. This season, with the Sox entering Tuesday at 76-56 and 10 games ahead in the American League Central, their average rating is 2.2.
The team’s success couldn’t have come at a better time for NBCSCH, which was coming off difficult seasons for the Blackhawks and Bulls. The Cubs are Marquee’s only regular tenant, and some apathy might be settling in with their fans after the team fell from first place to fourth in about a month. Though the network produces more original programming than NBCSCH, Cubs games carry the freight.