Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post notes that viewership for the Nationals' television broadcasts is up 56 percent so far this season, which sounds great until you realize that increase basically amounts to 3,000 extra people watching each game.
According to Steinberg the Nationals are now averaging about 12,000 viewers per game, which is "easily the worst in the country" and "about a third the television audience of every other U.S. franchise" save for the A's. For comparison, the Orioles are averaging 34,000 viewers per game and the Yankees lead baseball at 320,000.
I'm absolutely shocked by an MLB team drawing only 9,000 or 12,000 television viewers per game, but apparently my perception of baseball's popularity within each market is simply way off base. In looking at Sports Business Journal's chart showing viewership numbers, nearly every team is significantly under what I'd have guessed.
Only the Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, Cubs, Phillies, Mariners, Tigers, Dodgers, and my beloved Twins have an average TV audience over 100,000 people, and the Nationals and Orioles are among nine teams that average fewer than 50,000 viewers per game.