Looking back on the autumn, I wrote here and there about lessons that the Baltimore Orioles and MLB could learn from the NFL in terms of over-saturation and TV ratings. I would argue that the NFL is over-saturating it’s product which in turn is diluting it – if that’s possible. In their quest to own almost every night of the week, they’re providing an almost unwatchable product in Thursday Night Football. But I digress.
NFL ratings were down this autumn, due in large part in my view to the election. However again, there were other reasons for this, not limited to the whole National Anthem debate. However the ratings have started to pick up as the season’s gone into it’s stretch run, which in my view is no coincidence given that the election is over. However the NFL feels differently as to why this has happened – and the Orioles should take note.
I’ve read a few articles to the effect that part of why ratings have spiked again is due to the success of the Dallas Cowboys this year. Their success isn’t debatable, however to pin the ratings of the entire league being up again on that is a bit much. I’m not debating that they have a national following, because that goes without saying. However I highly doubt that someone was more motivated to watch last week’s Chargers/Browns game because the Cowboys are good.
However if in fact this is a prevailing sentiment, it’s entirely possible that MLB might start thinking to themselves, gee, maybe our ratings would spike if certain teams are running the table also. Obviously by that, I mean teams such as the Yankees and Red Sox, both of whom have national followings. Could and would MLB make things easier for those teams in a sense?
Well first off, could they? And the answer is no – at least not any more so than they already have. The luxury tax in baseball was designed to squeeze teams who go over a certain level when it comes to salaries. However teams like that simply work that into their budget. MLB couldn’t really do anything to tangibly ensure that those two teams are perpetually good; again, more so than they already have.
The other part is would they? And the answer there is probably. Baseball’s heyday in the lasrt 15-20 years was probably when New York and Boston were battling year after year in the post season. People paid attention – BIG TIME. Heck, most of America seemingly adopted either New York or Boston during these series’ just to have a rooting interest. So again, if in fact the Dallas Cowboys are single-handedly driving NFL ratings, MLB could look to that and think of how good their ratings might be in some of their more polarizing teams were in it big.
And incidentally, you notice I used the word polarizing. I didn’t say popular. The Los Angeles Dodogers and Chicago Cubs are popular teams. The Green Bay Packers are a popular team. But those franchises aren’t polarizing, like the Cowboys, Yankees, and Red Sox. People who despise them are just as likely to tune in and watch as people who love them. And when you combine the lovers and the haters, yes you have a vast audience.
One thing that MLB could and probably will do is ensure that Boston and New York are on national television as often as they can be. Granted that’s been happening for years, but of course teams get more revenue for national telecasts. When the two sides play over a weekend, you can expect them to be shown nationally on FOX on Saturday afternoon, and of course on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball.
So where does that leave the Orioles? In an uphill fight for sure. But that’s been the case for a long time, and since 2012 at least they’ve always found a way.