Newspaper article International New York Times

Royals Savor the Buzz from Success ; after World Series Run, Attendance Is Soaring and TV Ratings Jump

Newspaper article International New York Times

Royals Savor the Buzz from Success ; after World Series Run, Attendance Is Soaring and TV Ratings Jump

Article excerpt

Kansas City has fallen in love with its baseball team again, and the announcers welcome the winning.

For most of the 17 years that Ryan Lefebvre has called Kansas City Royals games, the team was predictably lousy. But their unexpectedly fast ascent to play in last year's World Series and their 28-18 start this season have added a missing dimension.

"The feel in the ballpark is different," he said Tuesday at Yankee Stadium in New York before the second game of a three-game series, which was ultimately swept by the Yankees. "Fred White, who preceded me and broadcast the games during the glory years, used to say when you're broadcasting in front of a sellout crowd, it's like playing with an orchestra."

He added, "The buzz of the crowd adds so much to the broadcast."

The Royals are drawing more fans to Kauffman Stadium (up 57 percent, to an average of 31,815 a game). And larger audiences are watching the games on Fox Sports Kansas City: The number of households watching has more than doubled, to 113,000 a game.

At the same point of the season five years ago, only 28,000 were watching.

But now, the Royals' ratings are ranked No.1 in baseball, although the size of the Kansas City market means that its viewership is ranked lower.

The Royals' substantial leaps in ticket sales and viewing suggest the existence of simmering demand among fans biding their time for a renascent team. They waited 29 years for the Royals to reach the postseason before they lost to the San Francisco Giants in the World Series. Now satisfied, they could push attendance to the highest in team history -- more than in the glory years in the 1970s and 1980s - - if current levels hold.

And they are fueling ratings that regularly beat competitors in prime time.

"Of course, winning leads to higher ratings, but this is about more than just winning," said Jack Donovan, the general manager of Fox Sports Kansas City. "It's a collection of players who are an entertaining and charismatic bunch."

Advertising rates for the games rose based on last year's success but do not reflect the jump in viewers this season because commercial time was largely sold before opening day. "Customers who negotiated with us in March are getting exceptionally good deals," Donovan said. "Those who chose not to missed an extraordinary buying opportunity. …

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