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Baseball Fans Sidetracked

While Major League Baseball diehards were tuned into each of their favorite teams’ games during everything from LeBron-athon to World Cup soccer, and especially their all-star game, it wasn’t easy for it to hold the attention of the masses according to W. Scott Bailey in the San Antonio Business Journal.

It was reported that Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game, broadcast by FOX, received a 7.5 Nielsen rating which makes it as the least watched Midsummer Classic in history.
My initial thought as we head toward the start of National Football League training camps: is there any sport or off-season activity that would distract NFL fans from their season?

Is baseball officially not America’s Pastime anymore? We’ve long heard that professional baseball television ratings pale compared to the NFL and even the NBA, much of the latter which is broadcast on cable outlets. But a scripted special about where an NBA free agent is going to play next and – soccer?

In his story, Bailey wondered if the passing of New York Yankees iconic owner George Steinbrenner earlier that day affected All-Star Game viewership. I don’t think so; if anything, I believe that more people tuned in that may not have otherwise because they wanted to see how Major League Baseball would mourn and celebrate Steinbrenner’s life during pregame ceremonies and in-game video packages.

Numbers aside, what can professional baseball do to recoup a fan base that according to reports has been steadily slipping since at least the late 1980s? After all, here’s a sport where you can see players’ faces (no helmets as in the NFL), fans depending on their tickets, are invited onto the field to watch and take pictures during batting practice, and play a game that can be mimicked in anyone’s backyard with a stick and a ball. Is it a PR problem, one of engagement with its fans or one of the many other activities available to people rather than watch television during the summer?

I was at Miller Park this past weekend and watched a Milwaukee Brewers homestand against the Washington Nationals. More than 42,000 were in their seats nearly each day and neither team is in contention for a prize of any kind unless you count high ERAs and guys hit by pitches.

So, what gives? Can baseball make a comeback of its own in the hearts of television-watching fans?

P.S. I want to take this opportunity to bid so long and best wishes to an All-Star in her own right. As many of those who work with Sports Networker know, Hannah DeMilta soon departs for the next inning of her life in Australia. I can’t begin to say what a great experiences it’s been to work with her. She’s laughed at my goofy and often snarky emails (not aimed at her, of course!); put up with my apologetic notes when time didn’t allow me to write a post I wanted for a given week’s Sports Networker library, and much more. Detail driven and efficient, Lewis Howes will have a tough time replacing her.

So, please join me in wishing Hannah the very best of everything. Safe travels and exciting adventures, Friend.

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One Response to Baseball Fans Sidetracked

  1. Chuck Bolorin September 1, 2010 at 2:50 pm #

    I love the Milwaukee Brewers!

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