Pirates drawing hefty TV ratings

| Friday, July 6, 2012, 7:08 p.m.

The first-place Pirates are attracting some giant TV ratings — and not just because they opened a key series against the San Francisco Giants on Friday night.

The Pirates' 2-0 win over the Astros on Thursday night drew 275,000 viewers on Root Sports, their largest audience this season. The total viewership surpassed that of many Penguins games and translated into a strong 9.48 rating.

According to Root senior vice president Shawn McClintock, the Pirates' local ratings are being matched or equaled only by the Tigers, Cardinals and Reds. Some nights, the Pirates are tallying the largest ratings of any major league team.

Complete ratings are available only since 1995, when far fewer games were televised per season, but four of the Pirates' 12 highest-rated games have been this season. The only season with comparable ratings over the past 17 years was 1997, when the Pirates unexpectedly made a run at the NL Central title despite having the majors' lowest payroll.

McClintock said viewership is up steeply in the coveted 18-to-49 and 25-to-54 age groups, which suggests the Pirates are attracting new viewers who may have tuned out during their record run of 19 consecutive losing seasons.

Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at arobinson@tribweb.com.

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