For years, perhaps even decades, baseball has been pointed to as the major league sport in decline, shifting from America’s favorite pastime to struggling to keep pace with the surging NBA and the goliath NFL. So, MLB has aimed to adapt, implementing some changes to the game this season that proved successful.
In fact, the adjustments made, which seemed relatively minor upon their inception, made a huge difference to the length of the games. While it may not be directly because of it, MLB did enjoy a regular season attendance unseen for the last six years. However, the good came with the bad, as the 119th Fall Classic fell to a record-low audience, as detailed by Deadline in this article.
So, what can MLB work on to continue the momentum gained during the regular season?
Open the gates to celebrity status
As has been perfectly relayed in this article, the league and its star players simply aren’t tapping into the opportunities of being a superstar athlete and, as a result, a potential celebrity. Doing so would not only greatly increase the revenues of the players, but also bring millions more eyes to the league and game days.
The talent is certainly there. When you have Aaron Judge gunning for New York Yankees records and Shohei Ohtani being talked about in the same conversation as the still-household-name Babe Ruth, there’s clearly an opportunity to become a presence beyond baseball proper.
To help with this, social media management is clearly one way to go, but other ways to help include going behind the scenes for regular game days. Documentary movies focusing on single sports stars have been around for ages and can really help to raise the profile of players. MLB should go big on these elements.
Have a presence in other forms of entertainment
Leading on from the point above, getting an MLB-branded presence in other major lines of entertainment could be huge. The immediate line of thinking would be docu-series. Streaming platforms have gone all-in on this fad, and it’s particularly worked well for Formula One, the NFL, and European soccer teams.
Another space that’s rapidly become a huge entertainment industry in the US alone – but also has a hefty presence overseas – is iGaming. The thinking would be to have some licensed slot games or a live table game studio in a top-class partner casino. Hollywood Online Casino comes with the right presence, branding, and appeal to be the right fit.
Of course, you can read the full review here, but it ended with a five-star rating and is loaded with top games. Having a presence on that homepage, be it with a player’s licensed game or an MLB-licensed game, will naturally raise the profile of the league. Other platforms are already doing this with partnerships with the NHL.
Should games be shortened even more?
Coming into this season, a pitch timer, a limit on extreme shifts, and larger bases were all brought into play. By the end of the season, the average time for a nine-inning game shrunk to the shortest time in nearly 40 years. Perhaps it was this new two hours and 40 minutes average time that opened the door to over 70 million attendees for the first time since 2017.
The playoffs saw a significant dip in audience, with the World Series averaging 9.11 million viewers – the lowest in history. Part of this may be down to the additional breaks offered to teams that split the regular season and postseason. Some had nearly a week off, but after such a successful regular season, you want baseball to quickly roll into what should be the most captivating time of the year.
World Series audience aside, MLB should look to build on the momentum gained in the regular season and seek to make more adjustments that raise its profile and increase its accessibility.