MLB Opening Weekend Ratings Are Out, But They Tell An Incomplete Story

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Major League Baseball is back.

Fans can nary see a game in person — with few clever exceptions — and so it was expected that TV rating would be overwhelming. According to reports it managed a 189% boost… versus this time last year, but is that progress?

Pre-pandemic life allowed baseball to start the regular season last year March 28, so ratings would naturally fall as the season pushed into late July. Another factor is that ten major networks covered the games this weekend, as opposed to just five last year. 

Considering the starvation for live sports after sitting on our tail pipes for four months, excitement over a ratings boost for July is fool’s gold. Baseball involved themselves into the Black Lives Matter movement and that seemingly limited the expected ratings explosion. The MLB Twitter account is on record stating their support for BLM as a “statement for human rights and not a political statement”, but do their consumers feel the same way? 

The ratings disagree with the claim. 

The choice for Fox Sports to die on the hill of Alex Rodriguez and Joe Buck for opening week could be affecting ratings, but we can’t ignore the obsession to ditch talking about anything other than the game. Broadcasts have embraced reminding the audience that there are, in fact, no fans at the game. The sentiments have seemingly continued from start to finish and couldn’t possibly do the ratings any favor. 

Commissioner Rob Manfred’s job to influence baseball viewership sits behind player safety after the reports of the Miami Marlins outbreak, but he’ll have to do a better job communicating with his audience to bring ratings where they should be.

Either way, Major League Baseball has a unique opportunity to captivate a new audience and the numbers suggest they’re missing the mark. 

Written by Gary Sheffield, Jr

Gary Sheffield Jr is the son of should-be MLB Hall of Famer, Gary Sheffield. He covers basketball and baseball for, chats with the Purple and Gold faithful on LakersNation, and shitposts on Twitter. You can follow him at GarySheffieldJr


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  1. Good article. A much more accurate comparison would be to compare the opening day ratings to opening day ratings from last year. Then subtract out other viewership that wouldn’t necessarily watch, but are because other sports aren’t on. Then assign some sort of fudge factor to account for peoples willingness to tune in just because there hasn’t been anything else for months.

  2. Really appreciate Gary’s sharp analysis and insights here! While it is a cause to celebrate the return of baseball and the initial positive number, the early strong rating can easily be fool’s gold as Gary pointed out. Think the vast majority of Americans are craving for unadulterated live sports content, and are frankly sick and tired of seeing political issues and athletes’s “moral” gesturing played out on the fans’ screens!

  3. I just want to know what ‘human rights’ any citizen in in this country doesn’t have? It’s obviously just a ploy to shield themselves from any possible criticism by painting such critics as wuh wuh wazizt, but the question still stands.

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