If you thought Major League Baseball is overly concerned over talk of the sport’s decline in recent years, well, you were wrong. Revenues are at an all-time high and the World Series features many interesting, exciting young players. Yet, viewership might be dicey. Although the Mets are from a major market and the Royals had the league’s best local ratings, the scheduling of this World Series poses problems.
Yes, MLB avoided going up against the NFL on Thursday and Monday nights, but Game 5 (if necessary) would be up against Sunday Night Football, consistently one of the highest-rated programs. And this Sunday features a marquee matchup between two undefeated teams: It will be nearly impossible to beat Packers-Broncos in a ratings battle. But that’s not the only flaw in the World Series schedule.
Game 2, on Wednesday night, will be thrown into the mix with nationally televised NBA season openers and a Republican Presidential debate. Spurs-Thunder and Lakers-Timberwolves will draw decent audiences, and although politics might not cut deep into baseball’s demographic, both of the earlier Republican debates drew NFL-level viewership, setting ratings records. As long as Donald Trump is present, the debates can compete with anything else on television.
Those two games are a test for MLB. If the World Series can stay with the NFL, NBA and The Donald, that will prove it can stay with anything. If not, it might be time for baseball to start worrying about its dwindling popularity.