News and Notes

Informal survey: College students losing interest in baseball; What should MLB.tv do?

Astros-Nats telecast the lowest rated and least-watched Game #7 on record

 

An informal survey covering nearly 50 college-aged students (18-22) found that 95% of them watched live sports on television, and of that group, 67% of them watched live sports but not on over the air television., rather on a mobile device or PC. From that same surveyed group, the students said that the NFL is their favorite sport to watch, followed by the NBA. The MLB was somewhat of a distant third.

With MLB’s ratings having dropped 4% this past season, it is not surprising that young adults are watching baseball less. The NBA hit a 5 year viewership low during the 2019 Finals, reaching an average audience of just 15.1 million people.  It was still better than MLB’s 2018 World Series viewership which pulled in 14.3 million viewers, down from 18.7 million in 2017.

The 2019 World Series averaged just under 14 million total viewers, making it the least watched baseball Fall Classic in five years. This numbers matched those of the  2014 series which also went the distance, seven games.

The recent Game 7 averaged a 13.1 rating and 23.01 million viewers on FOX, marking the lowest rated and least-watched Game 7 of the Fall Classic on record.

Baseball needs help, especially against the young folks whose attention the sport continues to lose.

All would not be lost for MLB, if it took a page from the playbook of the NFL and NBA. If so, baseball might have a chance of making inroads of sorts against the younger generation.

So with streaming serving as the destination for young adults, let’s look at the options available. These are the streaming services offered by the 3 top sports leagues in the U.S.:

NFL:

  • RedZone: Fans can add it onto a cable subscription for between $9-13 or buy RedZone by itself for $5 through the NFL App.
  • League Pass: It allows viewers to watch replays of games as soon as they finish for $100 a season.
  • NFL Sunday Ticket: Watch all NFL games but a DirecTV subscription is required; $300 for the base package and $400 for the Max version; between $80-100 for eligible students depending on any discounts they get. DirecTV also offers non college students promotional discounts too from time to time.

 

NBA:

  • NBA League Pass: Access to streaming telecasts of all teams is $200 a year. There’s a premium version for $250 a year. Streaming all the games for just one team requires a cost of $120
  •  Single games are available for $7 or purchase just the 4th quarter of games for $2

 

MLB:

  • MLB.tv: Viewers can watch any game live. Single team coverage is $92 a season but were discounted to $40 in late season. To get coverage of all teams it is $118 a season but discounted when the schedule wound down to $50.
  • MLB is charging $25 to stream all the games this post season, but a majority of them are already on national television.
  • *** It also offered a special deal that allowed college students to stream the post season games for free

 

Overview: How MLB stacks up against college students:

Taking a look at these numbers, it seems MLB is lagging behind the NFL and NBA in price range and flexibility of available packages. Many younger college students and those fresh out of college are turning to less expensive individual streaming services like Sling and YouTube TV. To remain competitive, sports viewing options have to feature more viable price-points.

The NFL offers student discounts to bona-fide college students. For football fans on campuses the NFL Sunday Ticket is tough to turn down. The NBA allows customers to pick and choose individual games. It’s of appeal to out of town students, away from their home markets and favorite teams. Making a full season commitment, whether it’s just one team or an entire league package is asking much of those who aren’t in the workforce yet.

By offering free streaming services this past post season, MLB is recognizing that it must cultivate younger fans to the game. Next consideration for MLB is a broader a la carte menu.. It is conventional knowledge by now that baseball has fallen behind football and basketball in popularity. MLB is no longer the true national pastime.

Students and others in a younger age cell fans don’t have deep pockets. They can’t commit to a full season of games, many of which they’ll never watch.  

MLB.TV does offer a “free game of the day” available to stream on platforms such as Facebook or at MLB.com. The game is not selected by the viewer.

How about taking it a step further. Given the restrictions of a limited budget,students’ priorities are football and basketball. As such, purchasing priorities for streaming packages will lean toward the NFL and NBA.

Baseball has to stimulate sampling among the youth. Individual packages could increase sales and lead to a boost in baseball ratings. So, how about offering individual games at a special rate for students and young adults?

**

Here’s a rundown of what was entailed in a 2019 MLB.TV subscription:

  • Availability:  Streaming is only permitted on one device at a time.
  • TV subscription required: No
  • Cost: $118.99 for All Teams, $91.99 for Single Team (plus taxes and fees)
  • Monthly subscription option: Yes for $24.99/mo. (plus taxes and fees)
  • Games included: Up to 80 out-of-market games per week, or only a single team’s games with the Single Team plan
  • Local team games: No
  • HD and 4K broadcasts: HD only
  • Dual feed option: Yes with All Teams plan
  • Live game streaming: Yes, this is a streaming-only service

***

MLB.TV does offer a “free game of the day” available to stream on platforms such as Facebook or at MLB.com. The game though is not selected by the viewer. It’s decided upon by baseball.

Here’s a rundown of what was entailed in a 2019 MLB.TV subscription:

  • Availability:  Streaming is only permitted on one device at a time.
  • TV subscription required: No
  • Cost: $118.99 for All Teams, $91.99 for Single Team (plus taxes and fees)
  • Monthly subscription option: Yes for $24.99/mo. (plus taxes and fees)
  • Games included: Up to 80 out-of-market games per week, or only a single team’s games with the Single Team plan
  • Local team games: No
  • HD and 4K broadcasts: HD only
  • Dual feed option: Yes with All Teams plan
  • Live game streaming: Yes, this is a streaming-only service
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