According to Nielsen, not a single monitored household in the Houston area watched the Astros lose their 105th game of the year for even a few minutes in any of the quarter-hour windows during the three hours it was broadcast.
As bad as this sounds, it does not mean that all of the estimated 2.28 million TV households in the area were tuned into something else. Nielsen monitors only a small sample of TV viewers in any one area to predict the tendencies of the entire population. In this case, none of the 581 households they monitor watched the Astros. That does not mean local sports bars or unmonitored houses in the area were not tuned in.
The Astros have struggled with ratings all year, but have reached new depths in recent weeks with the advent of football season. Sunday's game was in direct competition with the Houston Texans game, and the team's previous low of 1,000 viewers -- a rating of 0.04 -- came the week before opposite a host of college football match-ups.
While some of the Astros' viewership problems likely stem from the on-the-field product, a lot also has to do with carriage issues. The Astros (and the NBA's Rockets) agreed to a lucrative new TV deal with CSN Houston this season -- switching over from Fox Sports -- but so far are broadcasting games to just 40 percent of households in the local market, per the Houston Chronicle.
Several big carriers, including AT&T, DirecTV, Dish Network, and Time Warner Cable, are not airing the network because of disputes over the carriage fees. As one can imagine, this has made it difficult for fans to watch the team.
The Astros are 51-106 on the season, putting them in the driver's season for their third consecutive top pick in the draft. Houston is not the first club to lose 100 games three years running, but they are the first to net three top draft picks as a result.