Yet again last night, "Sunday Night Football" beat Major League Baseball (MLB) playoff games in the ratings according to an AP story on ABC.com.
So what's the big deal? I believe we are witnessing a shift here. Baseball used to be king. In fact, this is the first time that NBC aired a "Sunday Night Football" game in direct competition with the World Series because they were afraid of losing in the ratings. Now it seems they have nothing to fear because these ratings suggest that football has replaced baseball as America's pastime.
So from a communications perspective, I can't help but wonder where baseball lost its way. Is it that they need to sell the game in a new way and reintroduce the game to younger viewers? Maybe it is a fundamental problem with the product of baseball itself, meaning that the game just moves too slowly for our hyper-driven world? Whatever it is, MLB better figure it out fast or else they risk being about as popular as competitive basket weaving.
For more information about sports, media, and economics, check out the following resources:
- Center field shot: A history of baseball on television by James R. Walker and Robert V. Bellamy
- National pastime: How America plays baseball and the rest of the world plays soccer by Stefan Szymanski and Andrew Zimbalist