By Rick Horrow and Karla Swatek
October 15, 2012
When Major League Baseball and Commissioner Bud Selig tweaked the league’s postseason format, no one could have expected the result to be this successful. TBS averaged 4.6 million viewers for the first-ever Wild Card play-in games, leading into a divisional round in which all four series went the maximum five games.
While this year’s playoff TV viewership has been strong thus far, regular season ratings were down about 20% across MLB’s three national partners: ESPN, Fox, and Turner. On the local front, MLB teams saw ratings on regional sports networks fall 6% year-over-year. Though it doesn’t fully offset the TV declines, MLB teams this season averaged nearly 31,000 fans per game, marking the league’s best regular season attendance since 2008. Fourteen teams had year-over-year attendance increases, with eight of those seeing double-digit attendance growth.
One theory for the decline of viewership is the ability to stream out-of-market games that used to only be available on national TV. As far as MLB is concerned, it doesn’t matter if fans are watching on TV, on their computer, or at the ballpark, as long as they keep consuming baseball.