The YouTube logo was everywhere during last year’s World Series and it will continue to be everywhere for at least the next two Fall Classics. YouTube and Major League Baseball announced that they have come to a two-year agreement for presenting sponsorship of the World Series. That means a lot more ads, signage inventory, interstitials and announcements reminding fans of the flourishing partnership.
There was apparently some controversy that MLB execs would just sell sponsorship rights to the World Series. The World Series is scared and historical. It shouldn’t have a presenting sponsor. It’s not right.
That’s old man yelling at clouds logic. Everything is for sale in the new world of sports, and it should be. Sports are entertainment. They hold an illogical and emotional sway over most fans, and those fans get angry at any sign of change. Then they get used to it. It’s usually the older demographic that really gets fired up over the increased commercialization of sports. Those fans eventually age out and will be replaced by a generation that’s used to a constant bombardment of advertisements, sponsorships, and partnerships. Nothing is free.
This is a smart partnership for MLB. The league needs to connect with a younger demographic. Everyone is familiar with the studies that find baseball fans being on the older side. They need to connect with young fans and YouTube is the perfect way to do so. Millennials and younger live on digital media. They consume a ton of YouTube content. This doesn’t make baseball cool, but it does make baseball and MLB’s branding easily accessible to those young fans.
The deal also comes with an increased distribution for MLB Network and MLB.tv. Major League Baseball has been way ahead of the digital revolution. MLB Advanced Media was launched in 2000, long before the idea of cord cutters or digital distribution became mainstream. MLB Advanced Media turned into Bam Tech which is now a Walt Disney subsidiary. MLBAM still owns 15 percent of Bam Tech. For all the jokes about MLB and its fans being old, it is consistently ahead of the game when it comes to new technology.
This is a strategic play by Major League Baseball, its owners, and executives to maintain and grow their digital presence. They are partnering with one of the top digital distribution platforms in the world. It’s a no-brainer, and if they anger some older fans because of a presenting sponsor, then so be it.