In August 1939, Major League Baseball saw its first ever live television broadcast– and baseball has never been the same. In the first game of a double header, the Cincinnati reds beat the Brooklyn Dodgers 5-2 in a game lasting 1 hour and 16 minutes.
So why do modern MLB games take twice as long 70 years later? While broadcasts have added a rich new layer to the game, they may also be dragging viewership down.
In 1939, when an inning ended, the next batter was already headed to the plate, bat in hand. Now, there is a 90 second commercial break between each half-inning, as well as any pitching changes or other delays in the game. During the playoffs, that break increases to 2 minutes. Has our patience worn thin with America’s pastime?
I grew up spending my summers in New York, watching every Yankees game on TV. But I’ll be the first to admit that baseball isn’t what it used to be. It isn’t the most action-packed of sports, and as commercial time has increased, so have the number of people changing the channel. After all, highlights of Brett Favre’s last game might be more exciting than watching the Reds and Dodgers go at it.
So have the networks found the delicate balance between the game and the commercial break, or are we going to see a further decline in MLB viewers? There doesn’t seem to be a lack of money in the sport, as long as Alex Rodriguez is pulling in $170,000 a game. But the average Yankees-Red Sox game is over 3 1/2 hours, far exceeding the level of patience in most of us. It’s hard to turn down two movies to watch a baseball game these days.
What do you think? Will we see a change in the way baseball is played or broadcast?
Author: Jay Druba is a sports fanatic and yankees fan. When he’s not watching or playing baseball or other sports, he’s writing about travel products and travel accessories for his job.
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