It’s no secret that MLB needs to do a better job of marketing their sport to new audiences. And to their credit, they’ve tried to come up with ways to make the games and presentations more appealing. But they’ve also sort of worked against themselves in some ways.
Constant rule changes that no one asked for and preventing players from marketing themselves are just a few of the many ways MLB has failed in recent years. But getting fans to actually watch games takes more than just the product on the field.
MLB teams have a recent history of making it difficult for their fans to watch games. Dodgers fans are certainly familiar with the feeling, often being held hostage by Spectrum to watch games. And while things have changed for the better, that’s not enough for Rob Manfred.
“Local media was a big topic of conversation, it’s not a revenue issue for us right now. Our local media revenue continues to be strong. We are concerned about our reach. We think that we have fans who want to watch baseball who don’t feel they have an adequate opportunity to do that. There’s a strong sense among ownership that an undertaking we’re referring to as ‘MLB Media’ should step into the digital space in particular to provide fans with greater and more flexible opportunities to watch games.”
It’s one of the most reasonable things that the MLB commissioner has said in his tenure. Baseball fans want to watch games, and teams are making that very difficult right now. They’ve rolled out new platforms like Apple TV+, but even that won’t be free forever.
If MLB wants to continue to grow the game, letting fans watch games is the biggest step. Otherwise, the sport doesn’t stand a chance in the long haul.