Baseball On TV? Change The Game - One Marketing Pitch At A Time

The idea of Major League Baseball letting potential viewers and existing fans see games for free on streaming platforms is tempting.

But that isn't enough: To game the game with some quicker action is better.

MLB needs to boost all efforts for what was the original national pastime -- a sport that started before the Civil War.

This comes as Diamond Sports regional sports networks -- the biggest U.S. regional sports networks with interests in 19 channels-- has filed for bankruptcy.

Presently, under its restructuring, Diamond Sports’ Bally-branded networks will continue to air MLB games now as the league nears opening day on March 30. (In addition, it will continue to broadcast NBA and NHL contests).



That’s great news for baseball -- once king of professional sports on the big TV screen. Over the last couple of decades, baseball has been usurped by the NBA, and of course the NFL.

But if Diamond Sports continues to go south, there’s a plan by MLB to stream games for free to consumers. That is a tempting idea -- for the long term.

This comes as many regional sports networks groups are suffering -- the big Diamond Sports Group and most recently AT&T SportsNet -- for a number of reasons.

There is a high price tag, amounting to around $20 or more a month for consumers who have been getting their RSN airings through traditional, legacy pay TV providers. Streaming services of sports can have even higher prices.

And that’s a problem because at the same time, there is continued cord-cutting of legacy pay TV -- at around 7% to 8% per year.

For many consumers, high-priced networks attached to those pricey, legacy pay TV monthly bills -- cable or satellite, for example -- are becoming a luxury. As a result, legacy pay TV providers -- as well as new virtual pay TV providers -- are shunning RSNs, complaining that slim profit margins for running those operations are not worth it.

Now, baseball has floated the idea that it might be doing it for free -- not just to cater to fervent fans at least on a temporary basis but, I believe, to spin a strong marketing rebrand. It needs it.

At its core, baseball seems to have a supply-and-demand issue. The 162-game season can seem like a long road to travel for some fans. By contrast, the NBA and the NHL each have an 82-game season.

Secondly, there is the historically slow pacing of baseball. With no time constraints for games for its entire long history, the average duration of a baseball game is now at around 3 hours/3 minutes. By contrast, the average NBA game is at 2 hours/30 minutes and the average NHL game is 2 hours/20 minutes.

This year, for the first time ever, baseball is experimenting with a clock to keep the game moving. There is a 30-second timer between batters and a time limit between pitches.

After receiving the ball from the catcher or umpire, pitchers need to begin their motion within 15 seconds with the bases empty or within 20 seconds with runners on base. If they don't, they are charged with an automatic ball.

Complaints through the years are that baseball’s leisuring pacing, and lack of  big time more continuous action, have driven away fans/viewers. (That said, you might find other lower action TV sports -- like professional golf events -- to groan about)

No matter what happens this year baseball needs to get back in the game -- intensity, more action per game, perhaps more trash talking.

1 comment about "Baseball On TV? Change The Game - One Marketing Pitch At A Time".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, March 16, 2023 at 9:52 a.m.

    Wayne, MLB's issues are many and often are directly related to its need to obtain money to pay the ever greedier players. So, in addition to its extended seasons almost every team has a chance to make the game- bloated playoff competition---which makes most of the regular season games of little importance. Sure, you can speed up the games somewhat and, maybe, do something about the umpiring---especially the called "balls" and "strikes"-- and add more and more teams and go into Asia, Europe, Africa, etc. but the basic problem remains. Most of the games are fairly boring affairs---or games with no particular significance. How do you fix that?

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