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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

Reds TV Ratings Drop For Short Coronavirus Season

cincinnati reds joey votto
John Bazemore
Atlanta Braves' Ronald Acuna Jr. dives back to first base as Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto reaches for the pick-off throw during the first inning in Game 2 of a National League wild-card baseball series, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020 in Atlanta.

TV ratings for the Cincinnati Reds' COVID-shortened season dropped 9% – or much more – from 2019.

The 60 games telecast July through September averaged a 4.67 household rating, "down 9 percent to their 2019 average," according to Kate Zalesko, Fox Sports Ohio communications and social media director.

However, Forbes magazine reports that the Reds were "down 18 percent with a 4.67 rating compared to 5.72 last season."

Interest was especially high when the Reds finally opened the season July 24, after nearly a four-month delay due to the global coronavirus pandemic which has killed more than 210,000 Americans.

Opening Day – the Detroit Tigers-Reds game simulcast by WKRC-TV  on Friday July 24 – drew a whopping 15.17 household rating. The next seven cable-only games (July 25-31) averaged a 7.14 household rating, Zalesko says.

The late eight regular season games in September, as the Reds fought for the second National League wild card, drew a 5.6 household rating, 20% over the season average, she says.

The Reds' 4.67 season rating was fifth among all Major League Baseball teams this year.  The Cleveland Indians were first with a 6.61 household ratings.  

Who finished second, third and fourth?  "The others I am not able to share," says Zelasko, who works for the regional sports networked owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group.

The top five rated Red games were:

July 24: Opening Day, Tigers at Reds, 15.17 rating (simulcast with WKRC-TV)

July 25: Tigers at Reds, 8.05

July 26: Tigers at Reds, 7.14

Sept. 23: Brewers at Reds, 6.91

Aug. 2: Reds at Tigers (second game of doubleheader), 6.79

John Kiesewetter, who has covered television and media for more than 35 years, has been working for Cincinnati Public Radio and WVXU-FM since 2015.