MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred reports that his office has been negotiating with the MLB Players Association to find ways to increase the commercials-to-action ratio during television broadcasts to help generate interest among younger fans.
Game lengths in 2017 averaged 3 hours 5 minutes, with national games enjoying 41 minutes of commercials during inning switches and additional advertising built in during pitching changes. 41 minutes represents about 22% of total airtime, and with added breaks the total commercial time during games represented nearly 25% of the total air time.
“25% isn’t going to cut it,” Manfred reports. “We’ve done the research, and the younger crowd is getting bored. If we can hurry the game along, we can cut the total television time back to 2:45 without any significant cut to the commercial advertisement, and that would give us closer to the 30%-35% commercial-to-action ratio that we feel is necessary to keep younger crowds interested in our product.”
The league’s 2018 plan to have batters just say “fuck it” and swing at every goddamn pitch that came in their direction failed to cut any considerable time out of the broadcasts. Time-restraining propositions on the table for 2020 include a pitch clock and fewer pitching changes.
MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark seems to agree that the game is ready for a shake-up.
“The ballpark experience is the ballpark experience, but MLB and the player’s union recognize that most of the income comes from the televised product,” Clark said in a recorded statement. “The union generally agrees with the league’s stance that the product would be better with an increase in the ads-to-action ratio, and frankly, some of these guys aren’t being paid enough to stand around in the hot sun all day prancing around like monkeys with organ music in the background. Honestly, it’s a little insulting.”
Manfred is excited about the game’s future. “I can’t imagine a better experience for the homebound fan than watching a lot of stellar, exciting, emotionally-charged advertising from Draft Kings, Taco Bell, Barbasol, Coca Cola, Chevrolet, and Budweiser, and spacing it out with occasional images of virile millennial millionaires in sleek, tight fitting outfits just kind of hanging out in a lush green field.”