Here’s the good news for Major League Baseball: Gross revenues were up again last year, exceeding $10 billion for the first time. Local and regional TV ratings are grand. Sponsorship and digital media are very prosperous.
Now, here’s the bad news: Overall, last year’s prime-time TV ratings were down six percent with one team (Detroit) down an ugly 38 percent.
Total regular-season attendance was off again last year, down for the third straight year, the fourth below 74 million and the first below 73 million in seven years (72.7 million).
So far this year, according to experts, with some bright team exceptions overall professional baseball attendance looks to be down again.
Last year’s NFL regular-season attendance was down too. NBA attendance has been static the last three complete seasons. NHL attendance grew almost 700,000 to 22.2 million. MLS attendance last year grew almost 900,000.
Here’s a stunning and revealing anecdote for the nation’s one-time national pastime:
Monday night’s game with the Tampa Bay Rays at the Chicago White Sox drew an officially-announced attendance of 10,377 spectators. That must have been tickets sold or scanned by Mr. Magoo.
Because reporter Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times counted a grand total of 974 spectators actually showing up to watch the game at Chicago’s Guaranteed Rate Field. No problem moving down to the good seats that night.
True, the Sox were 0-5 at home by then. But stadium “crowds” are allegedly the audience that players are competing for. (See photo) The rest of us are allowed to share the experience on TV and drink cheaper beer.
And ticket buyers don’t seem to care barely two weeks into the very long season.
Here’s a ridiculous idea: After the compelling excitement of recent MLB post-season playoffs and World Series, just cut to the chase. Just have the playoffs and sell-outs every game.