How New MLB Rules Shape Local Markets

The MLB All-Star weekend is over, which means we’re about halfway through the 2023 season. The beginning of this season was clouded by controversy, with the MLB voting to make a series of changes regarding game play. Of the changes, the pitch clock, limiting of the shift and wider bases made the most waves. 

Despite anyone’s feelings on these rules, they have proved impactful – even baseball purists cannot deny this. 

Here’s how the MLB rule changes have added value to local market campaigns:

Increased Pace, Increased Viewership: 

The pitch clock is doing it’s duty – games are shorter. 

To recap, pitchers have 15 seconds to throw a pitch when the bases are empty. With runners on base, they have 20 seconds. If a pitcher doesn’t put his throw into motion before the clock runs down, it’s an automatic ball. Catchers are also penalized – if they aren’t in the box with 9 seconds left, it’s a ball. 

Complaints about game length have been plaguing the league for years, with five straight seasons of declining attendance. With the pitch clock, this season’s average game time is down 26 minutes from last year. At 2 hours, 38 minutes, games haven’t been this short since 1984. 

A faster pace is having a direct impact on fanship. Old fans are returning, new fans are developing a love for the game, and young and casual fans are finding a fun hobby. 

The numbers speak for themselves. So far, 2.8 million more fans are at MLB games this season than last season. Fox and FS1 are seeing a 31% increase in viewership, while TBS is up 38%. Social media engagements are up a whopping 25%. 

Unlikely Teams Are Rivaling the Big Guns:

This is a different league. 24 of MLB’s 30 clubs are seeing attendance increases, while ratings for the U.S. regional sports networks are up 3%. These upgrades are applying to everybody – just ask the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds are one of the many teams fans typically hear nothing about in national conversation. 

Last month, the Reds experienced the “highest-attended three-game regular-season series ever” at Great American Ballpark, (Bacharach). It’s the Reds Revival. This season’s rule changes are giving Reds fans a reason to have faith in their club.

Not only are fans enjoying baseball due to game length, teams like the Reds are playing significantly better. With wider bases and a limit on the shift, baseball is returning to the days of child-like gameplay. At the end of the day, this is a kid’s game, and that’s what makes it fun. 

Wider bases are encouraging stolen bases, and limiting the shift is allowing more base hits. Only aiming for homers? Boring. Across the MLB, batting averages, runs, and successful stolen base attempts are up. This season, the Reds are making club history. They topped the NL Central, had their longest winning streak since 1957, and had a player hit for the cycle for the first time in 34 years. 

Ads and Marketing Are Thriving:

Obviously, marketing alongside MLB teams is flourishing. Viewership and enjoyment are increasing across the board, meaning more are willing to be involved in marketing tactics and promotional opportunities. The league itself is in a position to soon be comparable to romanticized decades of the past. 

As for advertising, many had initial concerns about shorter games meaning fewer ads and revenue. This is not the case, which MLB Chief Revenue Officer Noah Garden predicted. 

Though games are shorter, more people are watching, meaning ads are generating more revenue. Local markets are becoming big earners for their areas, the Baltimore Orioles being one. 

Even food, beverage and retail sales are on the rise for teams like the Reds. An abundance of new possibilities are open for local markets, and these aren’t going away anytime soon. Taking advantage of these could define a brand’s success, so an experienced promotional agency is necessary. This is where SCA Promotions comes in. SCA has been working alongside high-profile leagues like the MLB since 1986, and they know exactly how to leverage once-in-a-lifetime events. 

About SCA Promotions

SCA Promotions has awarded over $228,000,000 in prizes since their inception in 1986. SCA is the global leader for promotional prize coverage, risk management and user engagement solutions that increase ROI, brand awareness and loyalty. With unmatched experience and an extensive selection of promotional services, SCA is the preferred partner of brands, retailers and marketing agencies around the globe.  

-Kathryn Inman

– The SCA Team

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