Baseball is in a dark place right now from a business perspective. We live in a very instantaneous society where things are always moving 100 miles per hour and baseball is everything but instantaneous with your average game lasting 3 hours and some change. The MLB has plenty of excellent young players they could show nationally on a more consistent bases but rely to heavily on the tradition of rivalries that just aren't that compelling anymore. Attendance is at an all-time low, as well as national TV ratings. There are a lot of factors that go into that but most of it is baseballs fault. So lets take a look on why baseball is experiencing such a strong decline.
Major League Baseball has always sold tradition as a core value of the sport is great but has failed to evolve in certain areas that would help the popularity of the game. Take social media for example, out of the 4 major sports in America the MLB is 3rd in Twitter Followers substantially lagging behind the NFL and NBA. Trailing NFL by 2 million followers and the NBA by 5 million followers the MLB is social media friendly to a point but they could improve a hell of a lot more.
Take the NBA for example the growth of basketball worldwide can be attributed to its dedication to having a strong social media presence. If I lived in Europe and wanted to know the score to the Clippers game it wouldn't be hard to find because the NBA makes everything so accessible for the fans.
Not only that though the NBA realizes that a good majority of people who like basketball around the world will never attend a live NBA game so its important to be a presence so fans know whats going on. Baseball is solid in social media but if they want to compete with the NFL and NBA then its paramount that they have more fan interaction then both of those leagues. Once the MLB can improve on that then they can advance in growing the sport among its young people.
Tradition is a great thing and I’m glad baseball does a great job of keeping it alive but why does it frown upon anything that’s different? Take for example this years all-star game, Yasiel Puig was on fire and it would have made a lot of sense to put him in the game but no that’s against the tradition of baseball. Puig's sample size at the time wasn't large enough for the MLB to put him in the all-star game and they missed out on a huge opportunity to draw in people who wouldn't normally be baseball fans to watch the game by selecting Freddie Freeman over him.
Instant replay was also something that took forever for baseball to implement. Of the 4 Major Sports in America baseball was the very last to institute a replay review procedure, which was put into place late in the 2008 season.
Tradition is great but baseball needs to modernize the game in certain areas to appeal with the internet generation of young fans or it will die out to the point where Soccer may surpass baseballs popularity in America.
When was the last time you saw a game on ESPN or FOX and were anxious to watch? I know its been a very long time. In a recent SB Nation article the baseball overall struggle to attract fans was examined. It was reported the ESPN's once popular “Sunday Night Baseball” has hit an all-time low with ratings dropping 5 of the last 6 seasons. As of 2012 Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN has dipped below 2 million viewers per game.
The decline of ratings can be attributed to several things. Such as the following.
- Same match ups ever year
- Lack of variety
- Lack of big market match ups
Baseball has some great traditional rivalries but National TV relies way to much on the Yankees-Redsox rivalry thtat just simply isn't compelling to the average baseball fan anymore. People would like to see different teams such as the resurgent Pittsburgh Pirates or young studs such as Jose Fernandez and Matt Harvey. Change it up a bit and you may see some different results.
The 2% league wide decrease in attendence should be a wake up call to the MLB to modernize the game and make some changes that would appeal more to fans. Its a great sport with many talented players but if the product as far as fan interest isn't doing well then you have nothing.