The World Series between the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers began yesterday giving Major League Baseball center stage for this epic sporting event while the sports stands at a growth crossroads. Once the most popular American pastime, baseball has begun to dwindle. Less and less people are watching baseball on TV and fans are getting increasingly older. In fact, only 14% of Americans consider baseball as their favorite sport. MLB viewership numbers may surge the other way because of Hurricane Harvey which is being compared the 911 terrorism bombing in New York City and the notion that this sport helped heal America back then and perhaps now as our country stands divided on social justice issues. MLB’s BAMTech has utilized sports tech solutions and products to make it easier to watch games via streaming and to root for your favorite team during the 2017 season generating the highest figures of viewership since 2011. The Sports Techie community blog uncovered an infographic produced by Ohio University’s Online Master of Athletic Administration degree program created to shine a light on the technologies in place to help baseball rebound and then grow as it has done for generations of domestic and international fans.
Sports Tech Driving MLB Viewership
The Sports Tech industry is dynamic, massive and full of solutions, systems and products designed for a number of variables including enhanced fan experiences, better fan engagement and easy access to online video streams.
I like the insight provided by the Ohio University visual resource graphic created to highlight contributing factors by sports technology helping to offset declining fan interest.
Behind the Hurricane story, social media hashtags #HoustonStrong and #ThisTeam, and the fact that the Dodgers have not been to the World Series since 1988, national interest is at a peak.
According to Sports Business Journal, the MLB postseason games on ESPN, TBS, FS1, Fox and MLB Network have averaged 4.8 million viewers approaching the World Series, the best metrics before the Fall Classic since ’11 (4.9 million).
Younger Millennial and GenZ generations are the target market for increasing professional baseball’s popularity and growing overall interest in the sport. MLBAM sports tech platforms in place seem to be making a difference now and into the future.
Ten years ago, children aged 6 to 17 made up 7% of the TV audience for postseason games. Today, the percentage stands at 4%. In fact, only 20% of 18- to 29-year-old Major League Baseball fans follow the sport somewhat closely or very closely. These numbers indicate that baseball simply isn’t making a connection with younger people.
Despite these negative trends in MLB viewership, this year’s World Series is looking to produce the best figure since 2011, with a predicted audience of 4.9 million viewers. What tactics are helping the MLB to regain more fans?
In an effort to reach new audiences, especially younger ones, the MLB has entered the digital world. From streaming games on the web, to becoming the top U.S. sports app, to enhanced stats, to improved social media, baseball is now easier than ever for fans to watch and interact with. In fact, MLB.com was the second-most viewed sports website in 2015.
Discover more about how the MLB has reversed their drop in viewership and entered the digital universe in the infographic below created by Ohio University’s Online Master of Athletic Administration degree program.
Sports Techie, game one at Dodger Stadium was played under record setting temperatures over 100 degrees when the first pitch was thrown due to the Santa Ana winds blowing across Southern California. The Dodgers prevailed setting up game two this evening.
I took my 4-year old son to two Atlanta Braves games this year and went to another by myself against the Seattle Mariners where I purchased a secondary market ticket from TickPick for $3 and was able to sneak down behind hone plate because the brand new SunTrust Park was nearly empty by games end. The Braves do a nice job with sports tech-driven programs to generate interest in young fans and families which should pay off in the long run and MLB digital initiates appear to be doing too. I used the At Bat app for seamless ticketing and parking. It’s definitely a cutting edge product.
Traditional sports are facing new challenges with keeping interest as high as in the past. Kids are using Snapchat and playing eSports indoors rather than play team established sports outdoors. Baseball takes too long to play although last nights first World Series matchup was played at a ultra fast-pace due to awesome pitching and defense. Plus, the MLB season is much too long at 162 games especially when adding the postseason playoffs, while the cost to attend live games is out of the roof expensive.
Football has a major issue with concussions and CTE which have led to declines in youth participation it may not recover from. Basketball is steady, mostly inexpensive and fun for kids and adults alike worldwide. A lot of kids have migrated over to playing soccer, truly the world’s most popular sport. Hockey requires expensive ice time and may be to be too niche for mainstream success.
Disney purchased the majority of BAM Tech this year so in theory, their expertise with both youth and families can help drive the latest offerings by MLB on their OTT digital march towards attracting younger viewers and increasing attendance at the ballparks. Motivating young African-American kids to play baseball again as they did in the past in a key for future success in the United States, imo. MLB is flush with cash so spending assets in the inner city black communities is a no-brainer. Giving away baseball-centric sports tech products to under privileged boys is a business model the owners may want to implement immediately.
The Dodgers are one of my favorite teams yet the cable TV dispute for local fans in L.A. entering its fourth season between SportsNetLA, and DIRECTV and Charter Communications, is simply greedy. How can the sport thrive once again when profits are driving decision-making instead of what is good for the game.
I love baseball and believe it can rise up again with the right programs in place for the right reasons. I also look forward to following the World Series hashtags. If #HoustonStong ultimately wins it, it’s another MLB story for the ages.
But since I live in America and am entitled to my opinion,#GoDodgers!
See ya later sports techie in Seattle, Atlanta and around the world!
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