America’s pastime may be in danger. It’s no secret the MLB has been facing a viewership problem for years as it continues its free fall in popularity among professional sports leagues. …
America’s pastime may be in danger.
It’s no secret the MLB has been facing a viewership problem for years as it continues its free fall in popularity among professional sports leagues.
Just look back two years ago during the first year of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Teams played in front of empty stadiums and fans were effectively forced to watch games on TV.
The issue is with watching on TV is the long history of blackout rules.
The majority of baseball games are played on regional Bally Sports channels, with so a very slim minority of games getting national TV broadcast or radio only broadcast.
With TV streaming services becoming more and more popular, the parent company of Bally Sports, Sinclair Media, maintained its strict blackout rules, even in the midst of a global pandemic.
Basically, if you want to watch your favorite team, be prepared to shell out huge monthly bills through astronomical cable or satellite prices, or if you’re out of market, you can purchase the MLB’s service that gives you regional access.
If you’re in market, options are limited.
It should have been a major red flag the MLB is focused only on cutting losses and expanding profits, which led us to the current lockout.
This is a dismal failure by MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred to allow this kind of lockout to continue to plague baseball.
Just last year, the MLB reorganized the minor league system and removed 43 affiliate teams.
And now the MLB wants to further cut pay for minor league players and reports surfaced the MLB wants to cut reserve minor league players from 180 down to 150 as part of the collective bargaining agreement.
We’re talking about the MLB eliminating hundreds of minor league playing jobs just to save a buck.
This really shouldn’t come as a surprise that owners scoff at the idea of paying players a decent wage.
In 2021, the average minor league baseball salary ranged between $8,000 and $14,000 and because the players want to actually get a decent wage, the MLB counters with wanting to flat out eliminate certain positions.
It’s been over 75 days since the MLB lockout began and pitchers and catchers were supposed to report for spring training on Tuesday.
With the league apparently not caring about its players, it’s clear the group that will feel the biggest hurt are the fans.
While there has to be a business side of baseball, the league and owners should remember, without fans, they don’t exist.
With rising prices across the board and a viewership that continues to tank, the MLB needs a leadership that can energize the fan base and make baseball more accessible to fans.
Between the blackout restrictions, the current lockout, and the owners caring about only lining their own pockets, it’s fairly evident fans are at the bottom of the totem pole on the MLB’s priority.
Chris Siers is sports editor of the Tribune. Email him at email@example.com.