At this point in the COVID-19 pandemic, most sports leagues have found their own unique ways to compete and play their full seasons. One of the first sports to return to play last summer was Major League Baseball (MLB). With the current MLB season only a few weeks old, they have become one of the few leagues to open a new season twice in the pandemic.
The Sports MONITOR at KANTAR recently conducted a deep dive into numbers to get a better sense of the state of the MLB. There are some who believe that a sport that was once known as “America’s pastime” may not hold the cultural relevance it once did. The numbers, however, seem to support both this argument as well as those who still believe that baseball is in fact “America’s pastime”.
On the one hand, the data received from the Sports MONITOR showed that the MLB is the second most followed league, with 54% of United States sports fans considering themselves followers of the league. On top of that, The World Series was considered the second most popular sporting event. Among Generation Z, the MLB was found to be the third most followed league with 45% of Gen Z following the sport.
While all of these stats would make some MLB fans confident in the future of the league, there are some numbers that are concerning. Viewership is trending in the wrong direction. In the 2020 World Series, the MLB recorded its lowest average viewership ever with 9.78 million viewers. This may still sound like a lot of people watching a baseball game, but when compared to the MLB record viewership of 44.2 million in 1978, it is worrisome. On top of that, MLB games have been taking longer to complete, despite all the attempts to shorten the games. Even before the pandemic hit, and fans were unable to watch their favorite teams play, the MLB had attendance issues. During the 2019 season, the MLB only brought in 68.5 million fans, which is down 14% from its all-time high of 79.5 million in 2007.
As is the case with most leagues and studies, there are numbers that can support both sides to the argument and lead to all parties being right. The Sports MONITOR collects these numbers and gives access to people from all around the world. To learn more about the Sports MONITOR, and Kantar, click here.