Why Baseball Attendance Is Declining And Why The Decline Is No Issue
The 2018 season was the first time since 2003 that cumulative attendance to baseball games over an entire season was below 70 million. Attendance per game was a meager 28,589 people in 2018 compared to the highs of 32,696 in 2007. MLB executives blame poor weather for the 2018 season's record low attendance.
In 2018, there were 54 game delays, which was the most since 1989, including 26 postponements on weekends which is when teams draw the biggest crowds. With this said, baseball's attendance has declined since 2007 due to better technology, slow pace of play, and organizations prioritizing revenue over attendance.
In recent years, TV's have allowed fans to watch the game from the comfort of their own home. ESPN provides a perfect picture of the game's most exciting plays; whereas, at the ballpark, fans squirm around in uncomfortable seats, sometimes without a clear view of a pitch or a game-changing play. The benefits of watching the game from home, coupled with the exhausting process of attending the game, contribute to the decreasing attendance levels.
Although the MLB is working to speed up the game, the average time of baseball games hit a record high of 3 hours and 5 minutes during the 2018 season. Over these 3 or so hours, there are only 18 minutes of action. Meanwhile, there are 33 minutes between batters, 41 minutes switching innings, and 1 hour and 14 minutes between pitches. The remaining time consists of uninteresting events. Baseball purists consider the time between pitches, batters, and innings, a time for reflection, but younger generations find the game's pace annoying; thus, ticket sales are declining.
Also, teams are choosing to increase revenue rather than attendance. The average ticket price in 2011 was only 49 USD while today it is 76 USD, an increase of 55 percent. Teams believed that it is more lucrative to increase the price of the ticket; even though, these higher prices will reduce total attendance. Consequently, the MLB saw record revenue levels of $10.3 billion in 2018. MLB's monetary focus has increased revenues, yet declined attendance levels.
As the viewing quality that television provides consistently improves and baseball continually gets slower, it is reasonable to assume that more fans will choose to watch the game from home. Although attendance has dropped, the financial state of the sport is stable, considering revenues are only second to the NFL. In short, baseball is in no danger of dying, as long as an organization is still selling merchandise.
Written by Willie Turchetta, Edited by James Mueller & Alexander Fleiss