Monday, January 7, 2013

Baseball still ranks as second-favorite sport among Americans

Some hold the belief that Major League Baseball is a sport on the decline in America. However, the latest empirical evidence seems to contradict that.

Baseball ranked second in the latest Harris Poll on "America's Favorite Sports" list, trailing only the mighty NFL. MLB garnered 16 percent of the vote while 34 percent of the adults polled said pro football was their favorite sport.

College football (11%), auto racing (8%), and the NBA (7%) rounded out the top five.

The poll was comprised of 2,176 adults aged 18 and over. Although it's a relatively small sample size, I believe it's a rather accurate indicator of the population as a whole.

From Advertising Age:
With $7.5 billion in revenue, MLB posted its 10th consecutive year of record revenue in 2012. More than 74.8 million fans attended games, the fifth-best record in baseball history. MLB also signed TV deals with Fox, Turner and ESPN that will double its annual media payout through 2021.

According to a study by Scarborough Research, 109.3 million people, or 48% of U.S. adults over 18 years of age, watched, attended or listened to an MLB game from February 2011 through March 2012.

That compares to 92.6 million, or 39% of adults, who watched, attended or listened to a college-football game during the same period.

"We are at historic levels in the ways in which we measure MLB's popularity, business success and the rate in which sports fans around the world consume the sport in all manners," Mr. Bourne said. "Baseball has never been healthier."

Two demographics that baseball may be losing ground to is in the 18-to-24-year-old segment and the South segment. According to Harris, those segments seem to prefer college football over America's national pastime. Is anyone really surprised, though?

Baseball did score higher with 50-to-64-year-olds and folks from the Midwest, which obviously includes cities such as Cincinnati, St. Louis, and Chicago.

One thing to keep in mind when reading the article on Advertising Age is that it is written with a noticeable slant toward college football. The results were twisted and skewed in favor of the sport ahead of Monday's BCS National Championship game.

Nonetheless, the Harris Poll should provide some comfort to antsy baseball enthusiasts who feel as if the game is losing popularity overall. Baseball actually improved three percentage points from last year's total.

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