MLB has a tremendous opportunity, turning a horrible pandemic into a way to finally showcase its sport to TV viewers who are increasingly younger and more female.
Front Office Sports’ Michael McCarthy reports on some very telling numbers over the course of 59 televised MLB games thus far.
It’s a season that has been plagued by extreme difficulties to be sure. The global pandemic means teams get regular COVID-19 testing, which has resulted in a number of teams being shut down for a duration of time.
But the season continues to limp along, granting a sports starved country with a touch of baseball normalcy and nostalgia.
According to FOS, 38.875 million unique viewers, across all networks, have gobbled up the programming. That equates to a 51% bump.
The sport also saw a noticeable uptick in viewers between the ages of 18-34 as well as female viewers for its games broadcast by ESPN.
The network states that its younger demographic, those falling between 18-34 are up 69%. What’s more, younger women (18-34) are also watching more to the tune of an 83% increase.
“We know fans have been anticipating the return of live sports for months and that’s certainly reflected in the Major League Baseball viewership we’re seeing,” Burke Magnus, ESPN executive vice president of programming and acquisitions, told FOS. “We continue to work closely with our friends at MLB to deliver the best national matchups possible for sports fans.”
On Monday, the sport had another bout of unspoken rules-itis. The Padres Fernando Tatis Jr. took a monster hack on a 3-0 count when his team was up big.
A grand slam later and there was the usual amount of outrage after the game from managers and players who continue to treat this game as a holy sanctuary that should remain untouched rather than the ever evolving sport it actually is.
I say this because it’s more necessary than ever for MLB to reach out to these new fans and welcome them in, catering to their interests.
Marketing to players like Tatis Jr., Juan Soto and other young athletes makes tremendous sense right now, especially with a captivated nation eager to soak in any measure of competitive normalcy.