America's Team versus America's Pastime - Who Wins?

baseball versus football ratings showdownIn the last decade plus our society has drifted into a “just add water’ mentality. Everything needs to happen fast or we lose interest...fast.

Baseball is not fast.

At its best it is methodical, at its worst it is painstakingly slow, akin to a drive on the 405 during Los Angeles rush hour. Because of this societal shift, America’s pastime has suffered.

National ratings are down.  ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball has declined in ratings since 2007, while Fox MLB Saturday has declined since 2001.

Youth participation is down. Since 2007, according to data from the Sports & Industry Fitness Association (SFIA), the number of kids from six to 12 years old who play baseball has fallen from 5.44 million to 4.34 million.

And attendance numbers are on a downward trend since 2008.

While baseball slogs through another four-hour-plus Red Sox-Yankees game, the NFL has cornered the market on eyeballs, topping themselves in ratings week after week after week.

Until something changed this year.

Some attribute the NFL’s declining 2016 ratings to oversaturation, Colin Kaepernick, Donald Trump or just the uncomfortable brutality, but no matter the reason, football is vulnerable for the first time since replacement players took the field in 1987.

No better time to march out the Chicago Cubs.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred couldn’t have planned this any better, the Cubs, the lovable doormat of baseball who haven’t won a World Series since 1908 made their way to the World Series. All of a sudden, casual sports fans care again about baseball.

The two titans of the American sports landscape faced off Sunday night and viewers had a choice: Game 5 of the World Series between the Cleveland Indians and the Cubs from Wrigley Field, or the Philadelphia Eagles traveling to Dallas to play the Cowboys?

America’s Team the Dallas Cowboys – themselves a ratings machine – versus America’s pastime. Surprisingly enough, people chose baseball.

Fox’s broadcast of Game 5 of the World Series between the Cubs and Cleveland Indians drew a 15.3 overnight rating, topping the Cowboys-Eagles overtime game on NBC by 32%.

So far this year NFL Sunday Night games are down 19% in the ratings, while ESPN’s Monday Night Football are down 24%. These are astronomical declines for the shield.

What does this all mean in the grand scheme of things? According to this humble scribe, people still care about the story behind the game. In baseball right now we can focus on the chance to break a curse, cheer for the century-old underdog and revel in the pressure cooker of the World Series. While in football, the stories behind the scenes have turned sour. Josh Brown, Ray Rice, Greg Hardy and the insanity of Deflategate has quite possibly begun to shift the tides.

In the end, neither of them are struggling for revenue, the sports industry as a whole continues to grow as are career opportunities, but the story always matters and right now, baseball has a better story.  

 

dr. Lynn LashbrookAbout the Author: Dr. Lynn Lashbrook is the President and Founder of Sports Management Worldwide, the first ever online sports management school with a mission to educate future sports business executives.

Dr. Lashbrook has been involved in the sports industry for over 40 years and is a respected voice in the industry, having contributed to ESPN, Comcast SportsNet, Forbes, SiriusXM, CNBC, Rugby World, The New York Times, the London Free Press, Yahoo Sports and many more. 

As a certified NFL agent, Dr. Lashbrook has represented over 100 NFL clients, including former 1st rounder Mark Fields, 9-time Pro Bowler Brian Dawkins and Miami Dolphins Quarterback Matt Moore. He is a passionate and enthusiastic teacher, known for helping students strategize ways to reach their career goals in the world of sports.

dr. Lynn LashbrookAbout the Author: Dr. Lynn Lashbrook is the President and Founder of Sports Management Worldwide, the first ever online sports management school with a mission to educate future sports business executives.

Dr. Lashbrook has been involved in the sports industry for over 40 years and is a respected voice in the industry, having contributed to ESPN, Comcast SportsNet, Forbes, SiriusXM, CNBC, Rugby World, The New York Times, the London Free Press, Yahoo Sports and many more. 

As a certified NFL agent, Dr. Lashbrook has represented over 100 NFL clients, including former 1st rounder Mark Fields, 9-time Pro Bowler Brian Dawkins and Miami Dolphins Quarterback Matt Moore. He is a passionate and enthusiastic teacher, known for helping students strategize ways to reach their career goals in the world of sports.