Baseball has been losing fans for decades.
Major League Baseball presents its signature event, the 2022 World Series featuring two big city franchises, the market No. 4 Philadelphia Phillies and the market No. 8 Houston Astros. But the World Series aren’t what they used to be. Until the 1950s, the World Series was America’s biggest sporting event, although there was the occasional boxing championship fight that could eclipse baseball for a day or the Kentucky Derby or the Indianapolis 500. Baseball was king and boxing and horse racing were in the second and third slots. Television changed all that in the 1950s, and football was the most popular sport in the United States according to a 1965 poll.
Major League Baseball may have better ratings for its 2022 playoffs, but only a very small percentage of Americans watch the games. Maybe one percent of the country. There is a lot of competition for sports eyeballs. The National Football League has games on Thursday, Sunday and Monday. College football has games on Saturdays, there are NBA and NHL as well as offers from Major League Soccer. In 1978, 1980 and 1981, NBC, which owned the rights to the World Series, averaged more than 41 million viewers per game. In 1992, viewership dropped to around 30 million per game and recently the sport has struggled to attract viewers. Last year, about 11 million people watched games on FOX. Major League Baseball attendance fell in 2022 by about six percent from 2019, baseball’s last full season before the COVID-19 pandemic. Baseball’s fan base is aging, which is why baseball barons are looking for gadgets to attract young fans. FOX will win the November network television sweeps as the World Series games get the biggest network television audiences. But network television suffers the same fate as baseball. It loses viewers as the audience ages.
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