The 2019 Major League Baseball season generated consistently strong fan engagement, increased consumption, and significant accomplishments in participation and fandom over the past six months.
MLB’s three national TV partners registered viewership increases during the 2019 season. The MLB on FOX package averaged 2.403 million viewers, marking an +8% increase over last year and its highest average since 2012 (2.536 million) based on Nielsen Fast Nationals. ESPN Sunday Night Baseball averaged 1.601 million viewers, an increase of +2% over last year’s average of 1.572 million. Prior to its final game yesterday, MLB on TBS average viewership increased +10% over last season.
Baseball fans are increasing their use of MLB digital products to watch and follow their favorite teams and action across the league. This season, MLB.TV, the league’s out-of-market streaming service, increased +15% in paid subscriptions. The MLB At Bat app featured an +18% increase in app starts over last year and surpassed 2 billion starts this year. As a result, MLB digital platforms across mobile and web ranked number one in all of U.S. sports and sports media for Average Minutes Per Visitor from April through August, based on monthly comScore rankings. In addition, MLB At Bat ranked number one among all U.S. sports and sports media apps in Total Minutes Consumed and Average Minutes Consumed during that same period in the comScore rankings.
MLB games on Regional Sports Networks currently rank number one in primetime on cable in 24 of the 25 U.S. markets where MLB teams play.*
MLB’s first season of exclusive game broadcasts on YouTube and YouTube TV, a 13-game package produced by MLB Network that began in July after the All-Star Game, generated 1.2 million live average views per game.
PARTICIPATION & FANDOM
Baseball/softball participation increased to 25.6 million, which combines to make it the number one team participation sport in the United States for the third straight year, based on research conducted by SFIA.
More people identify themselves as MLB fans than at any time in the past 25 years according to research conducted by SSRS/Luker on Trends Sports Poll. A total of 167.9 million people age 12+ identified themselves as MLB fans, the highest number for MLB in the history of the poll.
Major and Minor League Baseball combined to draw nearly 110 million fans (109,998,829) in 2019 with MLB’s season total finishing at 68,494,752. With a total of 1.19 million Ballpark Pass tickets sold, MLB set a new single season mark in this area. Ballpark Pass allows fans to purchase tickets using a monthly subscription model exclusively accessible through the MLB Ballpark app. More than half the league offered Ballpark Pass as an option with unique purchasers increasing +49% over last year. In 2019, the fastest growing buyers of ballpark pass are 22 years old and younger and the top five two-year age demographics of buyers are all under 35 years old.
The Los Angeles Dodgers led all MLB teams in attendance for the seventh consecutive season. The Dodgers drew 3,974,309 representing the 10th largest total in Major League history and a single-season franchise record. Atlanta Braves registered an attendance total of 2,655,100, which was their largest mark since 2007.
The MLB Ballpark app has been the #1 most downloaded U.S. sports league app year-to-date in 2019, highlighted by a +52% increase in users, according to mobile analytics firm App Annie, further demonstrating the leaguewide commitment to expanding and customizing venue experiences and secure digital ticketing across individual fans’ personal devices.
OTHER NOTABLE ITEMS FROM THE 2019 SEASON
- MLB players have grown their Instagram account followers by +51% this season. Total engagement for @MLB on Instagram is +63% this season. Between 70% - 75% of followers on Instagram for @MLB and @MLBCut4 are between the ages of 13-34.
- MLB’s first game in London drew attendance of 59,659, making it the most-attended international MLB game in history and the most-attended MLB game since 2003.
- The Mitel & MLB Present London Series set an all-time merchandise record for an MLB international event and surpassed all three-day MLB All-Star merchandise sales figures for the past 11 years.
- PLAY BALL PARK, held during MLB All-Star Week in Cleveland, recorded 149,513 fans, making it the most-attended MLB fan festival in 10 years.
- Fans around the world, particularly across younger demographics, continue to consume the sport and their favorite players through MLB’s popular and award-winning licensed video games in record fashion. Among the titles seeing strong engagement have been Sony’s MLB The Show 19, which is up +15% in total time played, and MLB’s Home Run Derby mobile for smartphones and tablets, which has seen total time played grow +12% over last year.
* Data on the RSNs is based on Nielsen research prior to the end of the season. Final numbers will be available next week but are not expected to change the claims above.