Every major sport league starts the season at a crossroads, real or imagined. The NBA has issues with tanking and draft age (medium seriousness), the NFL has its concussions (very, very serious).
But Major League Baseball is legitimately at an interesting place. While television revenues and player salaries continue to rise at astronomical rates (the league made over $7.5 billion in revenue according to bizofbaseball.com), there’s been serious discussions about the age range of its fans. The future of each league, not to mention the sweet spot for advertisers, lies in the 18-49 and 25-54 demo.
According to a study from the Sports Business Journal, the average age of a viewer who watched the 2011 MLB World Series was 52.5 years old. That age increased to 53.4 years old for the 2012 World Series. This was compared to 40.6 years of the NBA Finals, and the average age of 42.5 years who watched the Super Bowl. The study further showed that those who made over $125,000 were 25% more likely to watch the World Series than the total population.
Baseball is steeped in nostalgia. That’s just part of the game. Players in 2014 are playing essentially with the same rules as they were when the National League was founded in 1876. History is inherent in every play.
But strengths can also be weaknesses, too. The most common complaints are that MLB games take too long, and are too slow. Plus, any sport, or anything on live television, needs to be seen through the social media lens. The virality of a Vine clip, photoshop, or GIF plays well with dunks, hard hits, and touchdowns. So is it really true? Is there a generational divide amongst baseball fans and the rest of the sports landscape?
Is MLB unfriendly for social media? We look at the numbers:
Yankees OF Raul Ibanez’s pinch hit HR against the Oriole’s in the 2012 playoffs set off 38,549 Facebook and Twitter comments. The entire first round of the 2012 MLB playoffs had a total of 2.6 million comments on social media channels.
Last year’s World Series matchup between the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinal’s combined for 10,762,645 total mentions during the season (the Red Sox had 6,453,510 mentions while the Cardinal’s got 4,309,135 mentions)
The most used hashtags of the 2013 World Series were #RedSoxNation, #CardinalNation, and #GetBeard
During the 2013 MLB playoffs, the ALCS had 53% of mentions (490,473) while the NLCS had 47% (427,406)
The Red Sox and the Yankees are the two most “liked” teams on Facebook. The Giants, Mariner’s, and Blue Jays have sent the most tweets.
The San Francisco Giants have three people running their Twitter account during MLB games
The New York Yankees have a total of 7,980,000 fans across Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and Instagram
Baseball is a game dense with history. True, there may need to be some tweaks to keep up with rapidly changing attention spans of fans, social media and television. But the numbers say the MLB has adjusted to the digital age quite nicely.