Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Baseball's Endless Season

Is major league baseball blowing a good thing?  Is the league killing its golden goose?

Don't get me wrong.  This country will never stop enjoying its favorite sport.  But let me ask a question.  Did you watch the world series this year?  If you don't live in San Francisco or in Detroit, you probably didn't watch and didn't care. 

In all things, timing is everything. Baseball's timing is off.  The season starts when there is still snow on the ground and it doesn't end until snow flurries have returned. Simply stated, there is too much baseball.  With the season starting in April and not ending until late October, fans are bored with it.   In addition, by the World Series, fans are well into football season and those who don't have a team in the play-offs have moved on.  MLB needs to realize that.

Sports pundits attribute this year's dismal, record-low television ratings to the fact that the series was won in a sweep by the Giants.  (An sample article is here.) However, fans may be saying something entirely different.  My dad, an avid fan of all things sports, has said for years that the season is too long. He gets sick of it.  By the end of September, he isn't watching anymore.

Major league baseball doesn't seem to understand that if you overwhelm the market with your product, the consumer gets bored and goes elsewhere.  MLB could take a lesson from prime time television that finds a hit and then airs it ad nauseum.  This was the case in the early days of Who Wants to be a Millionaire and Dancing with the Stars.  Multiple nights and back-to-back seasons nearly killed both shows. There was no anticipation, no suspense. 

Back in the dark ages of entertainment, before the days of television and well before the Internet, there was a thing called vaudeville where performers worked before a live audience. From those days came an adage that would serve MLB well: always leave them wanting more.

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