As long as people stop dying, the World Series will do just fine.
The average age of the this year’s World Series viewer was 54. Five years ago the average age was 49. See where this is going?
At this rate, in 25 years, the average age of a World Series viewer will be right around 80.
That’s not good for Major League Baseball.
Back in 1980, the World Series between the Kansas City Royals and the Philadelphia Phillies was watched by an average of about 50 million people.
Game 7 Wednesday night between the Royals and the San Francisco Giants drew 23.5 million viewers. The first six games averaged about 12.5 million and, if there had been no Game 7 to pump up the final numbers, it would have been the lowest rated World Series ever.
Apologists for Major League Baseball will tell you that it’s unfair to compare TV ratings when people have 150 channels from which to choose to ratings from a time when their were less than 10 choices for most people.
That argument might be valid if not for the NBA’s ratings.
Back in 1980, the Los Angeles Lakers of Jabbar and Magic played the Philadelphia 76ers of Dr. J and Julius Dawkins. The games were televised by CBS. You know how many people saw it on live TV.
It was on taped delay.
The 2014 NBA Finals on NBC averaged 15.5 million viewers, including 22.4 million for Game 5, when the Spurs clinched the series.
There was a time when the World Series was the most anticipated, most watched, most talked about sports event of the year. And that was when it was played in the afternoon.
Now MLB and Fox Network have to avoid scheduling games on Monday and Thursday nights to avoid getting smoked in the ratings by an NFL regular season game.
The Sunday Night Football game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Denver Broncos had two times the audience of Games 1 and 2 of this year’s World Series.
And, as the New York Times pointed out, “NCIS: New Orleans” and “The Big Bang Theory” had more viewers, So did “The Walking Dead,” a cable show about zombies.
When baseball was king, kids used to get in trouble for listening to the World Series on their transistor radios during school and they would hustle home in hopes of catching an inning or two on TV.
How many kids do you think were watching Game 7 Wednesday night? How many kids even knew it was on?
Kids 6-16 made up less than four percent of the World Series audience this year and that number is inflated by the huge number of kids in Kansas City who got special permission from their parents to stay up late.
The 54-year old average viewer who tuned into this year’s World Series is old enough to remember when people watched or listened to the games at work and the local drug stores and barber shops knew it was good business to have a TV turned on for their customers who considered it can’t miss TV.
Nobody should be feeling sorry for anybody associated with Major League Baseball. The local TV ratings during the regular season are huge and the ball parks are filled. The owners and players are making more money than they’ve ever made before.
And they’ll continue to make obscene amounts of money in the future. How far into the future is a different story.
Thirty years from now, those 54 year-olds will be 84 and telling their grandkids about the good ol’ days when the World Series really mattered.