Braves’ TV ratings are up sharply this season

Braves catcher Kurt Suzuki (24) celebrates after hitting a three-run home run against the Mets on Thursday. (Al Bello/Getty Images)

Braves catcher Kurt Suzuki (24) celebrates after hitting a three-run home run against the Mets on Thursday. (Al Bello/Getty Images)

The Braves are drawing sharply higher local TV ratings than a year ago.

Through their first 17 telecasts on Fox Sports South and Fox Sports Southeast, the Braves’ ratings increased 64 percent in the Atlanta TV market compared to the same point last season, from a 1.4 average rating then to a 2.3 this season.

That includes a 73 percent jump for the first 12 night games, from a 1.5 last season to a 2.6 this season.

Like their attendance, the Braves’ TV ratings suffered the past two years as the team had 95- and 93-loss seasons, including an 0-9 start last season.

The Braves’ highest local rating so far this season was a 5.0 for the opener at SunTrust Park on April 14.

Fans leaving SunTrust Park after the Atlanta Braves defeated the San Diego Padres (5-2) on opening day.

“You obviously are going to get a bigger lift from the home opener in the new stadium,” Jeff Genthner, general manager and senior vice president of Fox Sports South and Fox Sports Southeast, said. “But if you look at a multitude of other games, you follow that game up with a 2.9, a 3.2, another 3.2, so there is some real stickiness there, which we are very, very pleased with.

“I just think there’s a renewed interest,” Genthner said. “I think there’s more fan identity with players. Last year, it was a little bit of a hodgepodge, but I think people know this team better and connect with this team better.”

Genthner said two of the first 12 night games “were No. 1 in the market in prime time,” drawing larger ratings in Atlanta than any other program on TV those nights. “For an RSN (regional sports network), that’s a big deal,” he said.

The Braves’ ratings this season translate to an average audience of about 56,000 households in the Atlanta television market, up from about 34,000 at the same point last year.

In addition, Genthner said the games have been streamed by an average of about 6,500 unique users per game on Fox Sports Go. “Those are people who most likely can’t get to a TV set but are pulling the game up on a tablet or a phone,” he said. Fans streaming the games have watched for an average of about 54 minutes per game, he said.