Major League Baseball welcomed fans back into the stands in 2021, but attendance was at a generational low.
The league saw 45.3 million fans attend regular-season games in 2021, a 33.9% drop from the 68.5 million in 2019, and the lowest figure since 1984.
Certain caveats apply: Many teams only opened to full capacity by midseason, and the Toronto Blue Jays played at alternate sites until late July due to Canadian travel restrictions.
However, fans also watched fewer games from home.
- Viewership was down 12% compared to 2019, as of late August. This was partly related to regional games moving from Fox to Bally Sports in March, cutting off some viewers with YouTube TV, Dish, and Sling TV.
- The “Field of Dreams” game brought in viewership 135% above that of a typical Fox-broadcasted game.
- MLB will begin a seven-year, $5.1 billion broadcasting deal with Fox next year.
MLB is headed into a potentially contentious labor negotiation, with the current collective bargaining agreement expiring on Dec. 1. Owners have sought to expand the MLB playoffs as a way of attracting more fans.