Plenty of people have turned to baseball to help get through the coronavirus pandemic. Through the first couple weeks of the 2020 MLB season, ratings are up, according to The Athletic.
MLB ratings have jumped 4 percent over that period. That figure is being driven by an increase in viewership from women and younger audiences, according to Nielsen.
“In the key local selling demo of persons 25-54, we see another positive female story, with females 25-54 viewing gains of 15 percent, going from 341,000 to 393,000 viewers,” Nielsen said. “Thinking about the composition of MLB regular season viewers, again comparing the first 14 days of this season to the same 14-day period last year in March and April, females 18-54 made up 14 percent of all persons watching MLB games last year. This year, that demo, for this comparison period, makes up almost 16 percent. Overall, younger people (persons under age 55) have gone from 44.1 percent of the audience in 2019 to 47.1 percent in 2020.”
Ratings, however, are down by 7 person among men 55+. The Athletic notes it’s possible that more men in that age group are streaming games now. MLB.TV has seen an 11 percent increase in total games watched this season, according to The Athletic.
Why are more women and young fans tuning in to MLB in 2020?
It’s unclear why women and younger fans are watching more MLB this season, though the coronavirus pandemic could have something to do with it. With social events limited around the country, more people could be turning to sports to pass the time. On top of that, live sporting events are the only “new” type of programming on television at the moment. Most television shows and movies have halted production as a result of the pandemic.
It’s possible changes to the way the game is played has led to increased viewership, though that’s impossible to know for certain. The league has altered extra innings rules, putting a player on second to start each inning, made double headers seven innings, implemented a three-batter minimum for pitchers and increased the number of playoff teams to 16.
It will be up to MLB to determine what is driving the ratings spike, and figuring out a way to retain its new viewers moving forward.
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