By Ernie Williamson
Thank goodness for the Astros and the start of baseball season.
It will be refreshing to turn on the television and watch a major Houston pro sports team win a game now and then.
Since the end of the Astros terrific run into the World Series last year, area sports fans have suffered through dismal seasons by both the Texans and the Rockets.
The Rockets closed out their season with 20 wins and 62 losses. That is a .244 winning percentage and bad enough to earn last place in the NBA’s Western Conference.
The Texans ended their season with 4 wins and 13 losses for an even worse .235 winning percentage.
The good news for the Rockets and Texans is that hardly anybody was watching.
Being wheelchair-bound and being further restricted in my activities because of the never-ending pandemic, I count on televised sports for entertainment more than I should.
But even this devoted sports fan has given up watching Texans and Rockets games.
According to the Sports Business Journal, the rebuilding Houston Rockets ranked No. 21 in local television ratings via AT&T SportsNet Southwest.
That ranking was based on data through the 2022 All-Star break. I suspect the ranking got even worse as the losses piled up after the break.
“In Houston, Rockets games have averaged a 1.01 rating,” John Ourand wrote in his Sports Business Journal story. “This marks the team’s third straight decline, dropping 56 percent over that time.”
As bad as the rating is, the Rockets still came in ahead of Dallas (0.99), Atlanta (0.88), Detroit (0.87), Washington (0.87), Charlotte (0.84), Brooklyn (0.72), Los Angeles Clippers (0.55), Orlando (0.27) and Denver (0.19).
The decline in Houston and these other cities came at a time in which ratings are on the rise in many other NBA markets. Viewership for the league as a whole is up 5 percent from the same number of games last year.
The Golden State Warriors posted the highest local TV ratings for the fifth time in six years.
Now let’s move on to the dreadful Texans.
The team saw its television viewership drop 18 percent this past season, according to Nielsen.
Houston’s NFL team rated a 12.6 and was one of 11 teams that saw a decline. The next three teams with the largest declines were the Chicago Bears, New York Giants and Seattle Seahawks, all with a 14 percent drop.
Again, the Texans viewership drop occurred despite the fact that the NFL ratings, in general, were quite strong.
The overall average of 17.1 million viewers per game across TV and digital is the best number since 2015.
Some of the biggest gains among the 21 NFL teams with increases in viewership were the Los Angeles Chargers (up 25 percent) and the Dallas Cowboys (up 23 percent).
The declining TV ratings for the Rockets and Texans are understandable in many ways. The Rockets were forced into a rebuilding mode when James Harden forced his way out of Houston.
The Texans were forced into their rebuilding mode after the Deshaun Watson sex debacle.
At the risk of sounding like I am gloating, I must point out that two years ago I wrote a column predicting the end of the Golden Age in Houston pro sports.
The Rockets and Texans made me look good.
I was wrong, however, about the Astros. Like the Texans and Rockets, the Astros have lost players. But unlike those local teams, the Astros have continued to thrive despite losing Charlie Morton, George Springer and Carlos Correa.
So, while waiting for the Rockets and Texans to rebuild, let’s “play ball.”
(Please contact Ernie at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, send letters in care of The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton, TX. 77516)