Post Type:post The 2015 Major League Baseball Season | Viamedia

2015 MLB Season - Advertising on CableTV - Viamedia

Maybe it’s just my imagination… but the 2015 Major League Baseball (MLB) Season seems to be getting under way a little late this year, with the first game being played April 5th between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs.

But given the winter weather we’ve been having here in the northeast, a little late is O.K. by me!

The best part of a new baseball season is that every team is tied for first place. And, even if your home team doesn’t stand much of a chance this year, never forget that old song from the hit Broadway show, Damn Yankees, “You Gotta Have Heart”.

And, if your team is a pre-season favorite to make the playoffs (and a shot at the World Series)… well, then, chances are you’ll get your fill (and more) of the games on cable TV.

When it comes to Major League Baseball on ad-supported cable television, there’s something for everyone. Make that a lot for everyone! Indeed, you need an elaborate lineup card to keep track of the sheer number of games that appear on cable.

During the 2014 regular season, there were 446 games carried on six national cable networks as measured by Rentrak (ESPN, ESPN2, FOXS1, MLB, TBS & WGN). That was nearly 100 additional games on cable over the prior year (due primarily to the increase in games on the MLB Network, as well as FOXS1 carrying games for the first time):

Viamedia - 2015 MLB Season - Advertising on CableTV

Source: Viamedia analysis of Rentrak TV Essentials Data (Telecast Summary Report) with MLB Baseball Series Search filter for ESPN (65 games in 2013 & 75 games in 2014); ESPN2 (14 games in 2013 & 13 games in 2014); FOXS1 (40 games in 2014); MLB (151 games in 2013 & 205 games in 2014); TBS (26 games in 2013 & 13 games in 2014); and WGN (98 games in 2013 & 100 games in 2014). All games listed with airings after 12:00 Midnight have been excluded.

Hometown Baseball

High profile national baseball games are a cable tradition. And while these games typically pull down respectable ratings, the real ratings story takes place in the hometowns of the competing teams. And nowhere is that more evident than in the near century-long heated rivalry between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees.

Late last June, ESPN’s evening baseball game achieved a 2.1 U.S. HH rating, but in Boston and New York (not to mention the entire New England “Red Sox Nation” area), local DMA ratings were significantly higher. Indeed, the top dozen DMA ratings for the game (out of 200+ DMAs) were all from either New York, Massachusetts or the rest of New England:

2015 Major League Baseball - Advertising on CableTV - Viamedia

Source: Viamedia analysis of Rentrak TV Essentials Data (National Telecast Detail/TV Market) data for the 6/29/2014 airing of the Boston Red Sox – New Yankees game. Ratings are live only (no DVR Playback). No repeat airings.

The Prevalence of Regional Cable Sports Networks

While the amount of Major League Baseball content on national cable networks is impressive in its own right, that is hardly the entire story!

Last season, Viamedia’s local cable clients invested in 559 major league baseball games. That comes to three baseball games a day carrying Viamedia advertising! And of these 559 games, 75% aired – not on a national cable network – but regional cable networks (such as YES, SNY, FOX Regionals; & SNY).

More impressive still: While 75% of the baseball games were carried by regional cable networks, these regionals captured a whopping 92% of total MLB local cable ad revenue:

MLB 2015 Season - CableTV Ratings - Viamedia

Source: Viamedia internal analysis of B.I.G.SM    database (Sports & High Profile Tracker module) for the entire 2014 MLB Regular Season (3/30 – 9/28/2014). Regional Cable Networks include CSN CHI, CSN PHI, FOXS OHIO, FOXS DET, FOXSMW, FOX SPORTS NORTH, NESN, ROOTS, SNY & YES. National Cable Networks include ESPN, ESPND, ESPN2, FOXD, FOXS1, MLBN & TBS. Copyright © 2015 by Viamedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Local Cable Advertising Demand Soars

I’ll leave it to others to debate whether or not football has displaced baseball as our “American Pastime”, but when it comes to the sheer number of spots that we run on local cable, there is no argument – baseball, hands down.

Over the past two baseball seasons (excluding the playoffs), Viamedia has run over 67,000 30-second spots for nearly 1,100 clients – that comes to 62 baseball spots per client.  

Source: Viamedia internal analysis of B.I.G.SM    database (Sports & High Profile Tracker module). Copyright © 2015 by Viamedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

If we confine our analysis to the forty-plus markets for which we have advertising data over the past two seasons, we are seeing tremendous growth – a reflection of both the significant increase in network cable content, as well as increased local market demand.

Bottom line: Local cable advertising revenues were up 64% driven by an explosion in the purchase of 30-second units, which were up 73% (2013 v 2014). There was also a broad expansion in the sheer number of baseball games that attracted local cable ads – 510 last season versus 353 (in 2013).

Source: Viamedia internal analysis of B.I.G.SM    database (Sports & High Profile Tracker module). Copyright © 2015 by Viamedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Even if we place everything on a per game basis, the growth levels are still impressive:

Advertising on 2015 MLB Season - Viamedia

Source: Viamedia internal analysis of B.I.G.SM    database (Sports & High Profile Tracker module) for all regular season MLB Games in Calendar Years 2014 vs 2013 across the 44 markets that exhibited advertising activity in both years. Copyright © 2015 by Viamedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

As is the case with practically every major sport on cable, automotive advertising captures the lion’s share of local cable investments (55%). Of some note, however, is the fact that – come baseball playoff time – automotive’ s share dropped last year to 28% with the rise of tune-in advertising (18%):

CableTV Advertising - 2015 Major League Baseball - Viamedia

Source: Viamedia internal analysis of B.I.G.SM    database (Sports & High Profile Tracker module) for all MLB regular games over the past two years (2013 & 2014) across any and all markets that carried MLB advertising in either or both years. Copyright © 2015 by Viamedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

A Timeless Game

As I write this blog, winter is starting to loosen its grip on the New York Tri-State area, but the manicured green baseball diamonds are still just a dream buried under a good foot of snow. But, maybe, that’s what makes baseball such a wonderful sport. It’s the anticipation of a warm weather game played at a leisurely pace with no timekeepers and no clocks.

It is also a game that hardly changes from one year to the next. Bring back a football player from a hundred years ago, and he would hardly recognize the game. Not so with baseball. Hall of Famers Cy Young, Honus Wagner, Tris Speaker and Cap Anson could all step right on the field today and know exactly what to do. 

As far as we can tell, the biggest change will be in the lineup of networks and channels that will carry the myriad of games that stretch over the spring, summer and fall. The cable network, WGN America, for example will no longer carry Cubs and White Sox games. And the New York Yankees will return to local station WPIX in New York for 21 broadcasts.

But that still leaves hundreds and hundreds of ball games on national and regional cable networks for fans to enjoy, and for advertisers to appear in  — ball games that have their own unique internal rhythm and time.

For more information on Viamedia, visit www.viamediatv.com.

 

– Written by Jonathan Sims, VP Media Research, Viamedia