MLB & Barstool Sports are allegedly working on a deal which would allow Barstool to broadcast MLB games in the future.
MLB is looking to fill slots for Monday & Wednesday games because ESPN is dropping those broadcasts with their new deal beginning next season.
The league has broadcast games via YouTube for 3 years now & Peacock has recently moved its way into being a possible contender for the slots as well, as they’ve now broadcast a weekend MLB series this season & also were a part of NBC broadcasting of the Olympic Games these past couple of weeks.
However, Barstool makes the most sense for MLB.
Barstool & MLB Are The Perfect Match
The league has one of the oldest fan bases in all major professional sports. In 2019, the average age of viewers for nationally televised MLB games was 57. It’s the older fans’ pastime but the younger generation isn’t tuned in. The league understands this & has been trying to find ways to get the younger crowd involved.
On opening day this year, MLB partnered with Twitch, a social media platform that has the younger generation wrapped around its fingers. They broadcast about 6 hours of a show featuring discussions about everything except what was happening on the field. In a way to make things interesting & draw in a younger fanbase, this Twitch broadcast was all about ballpark food, fashion, video games & more.
“It’s important for us to meet our fans where they already are engaged”
Barbara McHugh, MLB’s Senior VP of Marketing
McHugh has made diversifying the fan base of the league a top priority ever since she took the VP of Marketing job a few years ago. Besides the Twitch stream, they’ve made other moves as well with this goal in mind. One strategy they’ve implemented is giving more & more content to the players for them to post on social media. The young generations live on social media so allowing the players to consistently post behind the scenes footage, highlights & custom graphics is a solid way to reel them in.
Also on YouTube, the league has a show called “MLB Originals” which shows a behind the scenes look into some players’ off-the-field lives. Point is, MLB is focused on engaging the youth & Barstool is the perfect play for that.
67% of daily Barstool users are under 30 years of age. 15% of all college aged kids visit a Barstool platform every single day. It’s no secret that the company has always targeted young college-aged kids who enjoy sports & the college lifestyle.
Like I mentioned previously, the under 30 crowd is all over social media, constantly. I’m surely guilty of it too. Streaming some Monday & Wednesday games on Barstool’s website or even better, their Instagram & Twitter accounts, would be a huge move for MLB. I believe it’d significantly help with their goal of diversifying their fan base & securing the younger crowd before it’s too late.
Past The MLB
Barstool’s potential ability to fix MLB’s problems is not the only reason I’m writing this article. I believe this trend will eventually spread across many major sports leagues, as fewer & fewer people are watching the games on TV. Honestly, fewer & fewer people are even paying for cable thanks to the plethora of streaming options easily available. I don’t see that trend slowing down, especially amongst my younger generation.
Even the NBA, which has been putting a solid product out the past few years, is down in ratings. NBA viewership on ABC has declined by 45% in the past decade. The 2020 NBA playoffs ratings were down 37% compared to 2019. The NHL playoffs ratings were down 38%. MLB’s playoff ratings were down 40%. The final round of the 2020 US Open was down 56% in ratings. Last season, the NFL’s ratings were down 10% from the previous year. These are 2020 statistics, people were home with nothing to do & still weren’t tuned in.
Even Olympic viewership dropped to about half of what it was for the 2012 games. The Tokyo games averaged 15.5 million primetime viewers on NBC which is the smallest audience they’ve had since beginning to broadcast the Olympics Summer Games in 1988. I guess the Griftmania didn’t exactly pay off.
This trend is happening across most big time sports in America & soon, leagues are going to be in the same boat as the MLB is, trying to figure out how to get people more engaged. There’s going to be a rush to find the best, most profitable, & most engaging solution to this growing problem.
Barstool’s Unique Value
This is where Barstool has an advantage on other potential streaming platforms. The speculation is that if Barstool & MLB do this broadcasting deal, the broadcasts will be very unique compared to what we’re used to. They’d allegedly plan on having the broadcasts focus on in-game gambling. Sports betting is trending up while conventional broadcasting is trending down. Barstool has its own sportsbook & is probably one of the best examples of unconventional sports media we’ve seen.
As of right now, Barstool Sportsbook is only in 3 states, but they plan on seeing rapid growth as they launch into many more states in the coming months. For the time being, though, the in-game betting dynamic will be interesting if this deal goes through, being that only a few states would be able to participate (assuming they’d use their own sportsbook). Nevertheless, I see this trend coming to more & more leagues with other businesses jumping in on the idea.
Even aside from the factor of focusing on in-game sports gambling, Barstool’s personality is very engaging especially for the youth, who are the ones not watching as much on TV. Betting aside, every league is eventually going to have to figure out how to engage an audience. Conventional play-by-play announcing is going out the window I think, as people are now looking to view sports for the experience more-so than the game itself.
As our very own Jonesy said last night on our newest episode of I Got Next, hosted live on the Jianchor YouTube channel every Monday night at 9PM Eastern Time:
As television grew, & as money came into these sports; it got to a point where it was an athletic competition that happens to have aspects of business, happens to be on television. Now, it’s flipped. Now, it’s a television show & a business that happens to have athletics.Jonesy, Host of Wasted Talent Podcast
MLB might be getting out ahead of the pack this time, for once. Don’t be surprised if we’re watching sports a completely different way in a few years.
Jianchor BEEN Told You.