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According to IEG Sponsorship Report, Major League Baseball raked in $695 million in sponsorship revenues in 2014. The involvement of advertisers and the need to attract interest in the league shape how MLB defines its target market -- and how it will reach those in it. In particular, MLB's strategies acknowledge the competition from other forms of entertainment.
Crown Jewel of Demographics
The target market of Major League Baseball generally consists of males between ages 18 and 49. Advertisers covet this demographic for its perceived value, says TV Quarterly Magazine. These potential consumers are deemed more likely than older ones to switch brands or product preferences. Yet, the highest level of the national past-time has struggled to hit this mark. In 2013, half of MLB's regular season viewers were age 55 or over, says a 2013 Nielsen report.
Getting New Players
The 18 to 49 year-old crowd undoubtedly includes parents. Statistics indicate the children, who might encourage their parents to buy MLB merchandise or tickets, have not rushed to baseball. AXIA Public Relations says that only 6 percent of those under age 18 watched the 2013 World Series. Sporting News Magazine reports that, from 2008 to 2012, participation in youth baseball fell by 7.2 percent. In fact, during the period, youth overall played soccer, basketball and football in smaller numbers, revealing a trend toward less physical activity.
MLB has turned to social media, WiFi, smartphones, computers and tablets to draw younger viewers and fans. AXIA Public Relations notes that MLB streams games, especially to give fans an option other than commiting a couple or more hours to television. Twitter feeds from MLB inform fans about contests for tickets and merchandise and games. Mobile devices allow fans to comment and take and post selfies from games and with players -- effectively giving the league and its teams free advertising. Depending on the team, fans can order paperless tickets from their smartphones.
The infusion of popular entertainment marks another MLB effort to make the sport relevant to a younger crowd. For example, the Fan Cave campaign features young fans watching games and performances and appearances by celebrities from music, television and film. The average fan in Fan Cave in 2012, according to Mashable, was 30 years old.
- Prezi: Marketing Stratagies in the MLB; Eric McEnean
- Nielsen: Year in Sports Media Report 2013
- Forbes: Derek Jeter's Final MLB All-Star Game Drives TV Ratings To Highest Since 2010 [Updated]
- Global Strategy Group: What Companies Can Learn From Major League Baseball’s Social Media Game; Brysan Brown
- Adweek: Major League Baseball Is Trying Hard to Expand Its Fan Base With Social and Video Integrations Will other leagues Emulate the Fan Cave Experiment? By David Gianatasio
- Television Quarterly: Why Do Advertisers Still Covet the 18-49s?; Earl Pomerantz
- Axia Public Relations: Three Takeaways from Major League Baseball for Restocking Your Aging Customer Base
- New York Business Journal: Why MLB Really Wants You to Have WiFi and a Smart Phone At the Ball Game
- Sporting News: Study: Rise in Youth Football Participation Bucks Overall Sports Trend
- IEG Sponsorship Report: MLB Sponsorship Revenue Totals $695 Million In 2014 Season
Christopher Raines enjoys sharing his knowledge of business, financial matters and the law. He earned his business administration and law degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As a lawyer since August 1996, Raines has handled cases involving business, consumer and other areas of the law.