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TV ratings spike for Cole's Pirates debut

| Saturday, June 15, 2013, 6:45 p.m.

Pirates prized pitcher Gerrit Cole not only produced a quality start in his debut Tuesday, but he also increased television ratings and ticket sales.

Root Sports general manager Shawn McClintock said Cole's first start drew a 10.06 Nielsen rating, which was the eighth-highest rating for a local-market telecast in Pirates history. McClintock said the rating equates to 315,000 viewers. It was the highest-rated Pirates' local-market telecast on record for a game played in the first half of a season. Records date to the mid-1990s.

McClintock said the game's television rating marked a 25 percent increase over average ratings for a telecast this season.

The Pirates' No. 1-rated prospect also generated ticket sales.

The Pirates drew a crowd of 30,614 on Tuesday for his debut, a significant spike in midweek ticket sales. The following night, the Pirates announced an attendance of 19,930.

A Groupon.com ticket special contributed to tickets sold Tuesday, but Cole's promotion played a significant role in the sales; 18,000 tickets had been sold prior to the announcement of his call-up Saturday. In three days after his call-up announcement, the Pirates sold 12,000 tickets.

The Pirates played three other Tuesday games at PNC Park this season, announcing an attendance of 12,973 vs. the Mariners on May 7; 11,556 vs. the Brewers on May 14; and 16,092 vs. the Cubs on May 21.

The interest in Cole's start — as judged by percentage of tickets sold at PNC Park— was greater than that of Stephen Strasburg's debut in 2010. Strasburg debuted on a Tuesday, and the Nationals sold 40,315 tickets. The Nationals sold 27,202 the following night. That's a 32.5 percent decline. The Pirates' attendance decline from Tuesday to Wednesday was 34.9 percent.

Cole makes his second start Sunday. The game is close to selling out.

Travis Sawchik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at tsawchik@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Sawchik_Trib.

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