Baseball Season Saved, But Viewing Challenges Remain

Although Major League Baseball has averted a major disruption, if not cancellation, of the upcoming season due to its three-month work stoppage, some problems remain -- especially when it comes to TV advertisers and the sport’s hardcore TV viewers.

A report from Samba TV says older, high-income households with white viewers are the biggest MLB fans, and that most of its overall viewers spend more time on linear TV networks than on streaming or other alternatives. The top three-indexing demographics were 75+, white, and households making more than $200,000.

Samba TV says, for example, that MLB viewers post a 2.01 index on the Fox Television Network followed by 1.98 on CBS, 1.96 on ABC, 1.95 for USA Network and 1.94 on NBC, when looking at data from January to February of this year.



These indexes exclude sports programming and are based on time spent viewing compared to the average U.S. household.

A survey by the Sports Business Journal last year said the MLB had the oldest fans, with an average age of 57. Other sports were significantly lower, with the NBA at 42, followed by the NHL with 49 and the NFL with 50.

Business analysts have long been concerned that baseball needs the more diverse and somewhat younger TV viewers that other big-time sports pull in to grow the sport.

According to a number of estimates, national TV spending on Major League Baseball TV networks for the 2021 season was roughly $480 million to $510 million, including postseason business.

According to, the top networks by ad spend: Fox ($256.8 million); TBS ($60.2 million); MLB Network ($53.7 million); Fox Deportes ($45.5 million); and ESPN ($30.9 million). Total number of impressions for 2021 were 36.6 billion.

Two years before -- during the pre-pandemic year of 2019 -- baseball totaled 25.3 billion.

Major TV advertisers from a year ago included Geico, T-Mobile, Indeed, Progressive Insurance, and Taco Bell.

MLB team owners and players agreed to a minimum player salary raise to $700, 000 and a 12-team post-season playoffs (up from 10 teams).

In addition, the league, according to an ESPN report, will now allow advertising “patches” on jerseys and helmets.

1 comment about "Baseball Season Saved, But Viewing Challenges Remain".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, March 11, 2022 at 3:27 p.m.

    Wayne, I have no problem with Samba's finding---based on ACR set usage----that baseball skews older in "viewing" as that's what every people - based survey has been telling us for quite a long time. But I do find the peak in homes earning $200,000+ to be somewhat dubious as in most cases when you skew old you do not have a major upscale slant to your viewership. TV Golf has long been an exception to this rule but I haven't seen it in the baseball stats.

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