Major League Baseball has constantly been working on improving the game of baseball and boosting viewership rates.
The MLB has tried to make the game faster in an effort to sell more tickets. The commissioner’s office has instituted a pitch clock and put a cap on mound visits. Unfortunately, the new rules have slightly improved attendance rates, but more needs to be done. In the below chart, you will see average attendance rates and television viewership rates. From my findings, I have seen attendance rates go up slightly for some clubs, but TV viewership is still in the gutter.
From the spreadsheet, you can see that the Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals, Colorado Rockies, Milwaukee Brewers, Atlanta Braves, San Diego Padres and Pittsburgh Pirates are averaging high attendance numbers. While those markets are seeing more and more folks at their ballparks, the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Angels, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals and Baltimore Orioles are seeing a dip in their attendance rates.
In addition, more than of half of the clubs in league are seeing their attendance numbers improve (from 2018 to 2019). Ball clubs such as the New York Mets and the Minnesota Twins are seeing an improvement. That most likely could be attributed to the ball club’s success as both the Mets and Twins are exceeding expectations.
Attendance rates are on the right path, but TV viewership certainly is not. Thirteen MLB clubs saw a decrease in TV viewership. The majority of the clubs that had lower TV ratings had awful campaigns last year. Only one team that had lower TV ratings last season made it to the postseason. The Oakland Athletics were the only club.
With attendance rates and TV viewership rates so fickle and inconsistent, it is time for a drastic change. Any adjustments to game length will not address the inconsistency. Something else has to be done.
Major League Baseball needs to institute a minimum spend. It might seem odd to think that MLB could dictate how much money a team needs to spend in order to compete given that there is no salary cap, but the only way to get folks in the seats and buying merchandise is to lure free agents and high-priced talent.
This season, 15 teams have a total payroll under $130 million USD. The club spending the lowest in the MLB is the Tampa Bay Rays with a combined payroll of $62 million USD. Sure, the Rays have surprised fans across baseball with their success this season, but we do not see teams barely spend and have long-term success. In fact, the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and the Chicago Cubs have been successful with high payrolls, while teams such as the Oakland Athletics, Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates seem to fail season after season.
This upcoming off-season, several high-priced free agents are scheduled to hit the market including Stephen Strasburg, Anthony Rendon, J.D. Martinez, Jose Abreu, Elvis Andrus, Gerrit Cole and Marcell Ozuna. Just imagine if the clubs like the Kansas City Royals or the Oakland Athletics made a big splash and brought to town one or two of those talented free agents. They would suddenly become a more competitive ball club and lure more folks to ballpark. Instead, they are likely to sit back and not spend. Each and every off-season that goes by, we see these clubs not spend and hurt their attendance and reputation. It is time for a change. Let’s get more folks tuning into baseball!
It is time for a minimum spend.
attendance rates from ESPN, TV viewership rates from Forbes/Nielsen Ratings, payroll numbers from Spotrac