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MLB posts series of television, digital gains

Xander Bogaerts of the Red Sox warms up before game two of the 2019 MLB London Series against the Yankees on June 30, 2019.

Major League Baseball this season posted a series of gains in television in digital consumption, contrasting with the sport’s ongoing attendance decline.

The league said it ended the 2019 regular season with an 8-per-cent increase for viewership of its national broadcast schedule on Fox to an an average of 2.4 million US viewers, the highest average for that rights package since 2012. Baseball’s television gains also extended to ESPN, which record a 2-per-cent viewership increase for Sunday Night Baseball to an average of 1.6 million viewers. TBS’ non-exclusive Sunday afternoon national game package is also on pace to grow by 10 percent in average viewership when final audience numbers are tallied.

On the digital front, MLB said subscriptions to the MLB.TV out-of-market game package rose 15 per cent from 2018, while the starts for the MLB At Bat mobile app rose 18 per cent in 2019. The league’s Ballpark mobile app, which is focused on ticketing and fans in-venue experiences, registered a 52 per cent increase in users. Total fan time spent on two of the league’s primary video game titles, Sony’s MLB: The Show and the league’s own Home Run Derby, each rose by double-digit percentages.

While MLB’s attendance fell for the sixth time in seven years, the league said its clubs collectively sold 1.19 Ballpark Pass products this year to set a new single-season league record. The subscription-based Ballpark Passes offer flexible access to a ballpark as much as they want in a given period of time with no fixed, guaranteed seat for a heavily discounted price. The league’s first of two London games in late June, meanwhile, drew 59,659, marking the most-attended MLB international game ever and the most-attended MLB game of any type since 2003.