I’ll admit I may be behind the curveball on this, with my Yankees out of the the “real” playoffs (ALDS/ALCS) for the last few years. As I turned on FS1 to watch the Yanks in the ALCS this week, I realized that playoff baseball is back to being played during the day (or at least the day and early evening). With an exciting series being played between the Yankees and the Astros, what a seemingly great opportunity for baseball to reach younger, nascent fans.
We know that baseball has taken quite a hit over the past decades, giving up the mantle of America’s game to football. And one of the anecdotal reasons is that for a long time, the best baseball – playoff baseball – was being played almost exclusively at night. While that provided many more eyeballs to drive revenues, it also, presumably, stood in the way of the next generations of potential baseball fans from watching games from start to thrilling finish.
But I’ll admit that my waxing poetic about listening to games on clandestine transistor radios while in school in the 1970s may not translate to today’s world. Youth today may not even care to watch a game all the way through, and just rely on highlights on their social media feeds. Staying up late to watch live just may not be the way young casual fans will engage with baseball – or any sport.
I’m sure MLB and its rights holders are executing research to explore the best way to reach and develop the next generation of avid fans. Whether it’s daytime baseball, or partnerships with emerging media companies, exposure is what counts when nurturing the potential next generation of baseball fans. If they can’t watch because of limits on access – or won’t watch because games linger on for 3½ hours or more – there is little hope they will watch when they age into that critical 18-34 demographic.
David Tice is the principal of TiceVision LLC, a media research consultancy.
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