Tuesday October 3, 2023

MLB Broadcasts Hold Steady Amid Cord-Cutting

  • MLB broadcasts have been essentially flat compared to last year through the All-Star Break.
  • Baseball is still a top prime time draw.
David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
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October 3, 2023 | Podcast
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Baseball broadcasts are getting ahead by staying where they are.

Viewership numbers for MLB games on regional sports networks are essentially flat this year — but that’s a win, given that cable subscribers are steadily dropping.

Additionally, more than half the league’s teams are either the top or second prime time broadcast in their areas.

Three AL West teams showed the biggest year-over-year increases: The Texas Rangers, who spent big in the offseason, topped MLB with 42% growth, followed by Shohei Ohtani’s Los Angeles Angels and the ascendant Seattle Mariners, both with 33%.

  • Regional sports network viewership for the 29 U.S.-based teams are collectively down 0.4% year-over-year.
  • Of those, 13 are up from last year, 15 are down, and the Pittsburgh Pirates posted identical numbers.

The Yankees’ household impressions grew 13% year-over-year by the All-Star Break to an MLB-best 22,597,400. The team’s Subway Series loss on Wednesday to the New York Mets drew 2.1 million average viewers, a 15-year high for a weekday MLB game on ESPN.

Regional Stream Networks

MLB and its teams are looking to adapt to a future in which they are less dependent on regional sports networks, as is Sinclair, which owns and operates the 21 Bally networks.

In June, Sinclair rolled out broadcasts for five MLB teams on Bally Sports+, a $19.99-per-month streaming service. MLB offers out-of-market games on its MLB.tv service.

Boston Red Sox and Bruins broadcaster NESN launched its own streaming service in June for $29.99 per month, while the Yankees’ YES Network indicated it intends to follow suit.

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