Originally Posted by Brian26
I think part of the problem is that people now have more entertainment options at home. Before satellite/cable, most people were lucky to have a half dozen channels. Casual fans would watch the World Series just because it was on. Now, there are hundreds of channels, internet, dvr, on demand movies, etc.
Originally Posted by DSpivack
Baseball is the 2nd most popular sport, and TV revenue has never been higher. The health of the sport is perfectly fine.
I agree with both statements even though at first glance they would seem to contradict each other. If the sports/entertainment pie is cut into more pieces (and there's no doubt that it has), it wouldn't follow that baseball is collecting record revenues. But both are still true.
Television is what drives this. They figured out some years ago that producing a sports broadcast is cheaper than producing a sitcom or a movie. The ratio of ad revenue to costs is higher for sports, even with the oceans of money Fox and ESPN (owned by Disney) throw around in rights fees. Even is 1981, the Tribune company was so concerned about losing WGN-TV's rights to the Cubs that they bought the team; doing that guaranteed that Channel 9 would have hundreds of hours of economical programming.
The difference now is in scale. Fox and ESPN pay billions in rights fees, and MLB teams have gotten savvy enough to work out their own local deals for radio and TV, some of them owning their own local networks. The moneymaking potential for broadcasters is so great that there's plenty of money for all sports. Hell, there's even a full-time golf channel.
The World Series? It's the final act in the six-month-long MLB TV show. As long as overall revenue is high (and it is), MLB doesn't have any real incentive to promote it to the prominence it held in previous generations. Pete Rozelle and the NFL were 50 years ahead of MLB in understanding how to promote their sport, and it's no coincidence that the Super Bowl is, for all practical purposes, a national holiday.
MLB could still do that but they've got a lot of catching up to do. It makes no sense that the deciding game of the World Series didn't end until 11:00 p.m. on a weeknight. This is MLB's Super Bowl, but they've handed the keys to the Fox network. We're subjected to the too-cool-for-school dronings of Joe Buck and the inanities of Tim McCarver, who spend way too much time promoting other TV shows.
As long as the TV checks have lots of zeros and clear the bank, I don't see much of this changing. I hope I'm wrong.