Fernando Tatis Jr. # 23 of the San Diego Padres runs past third base in the 18th inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 18, 2021 at Petco Park in San Diego, California.
Matt Thomas | San Diego Padres | Getty Images
Sports fans streamed Major League Baseball more than ever for the first three weekends of the season as the sport continues to battle Covid-19 and political backlash.
MLB said that live games on its over-the-top service (MLB.TV) collected more than 1.3 billion minutes of streams from opening day (April 1) to April 18. This is an increase of 12% compared to the first 18 days of the shortened 2020 season and plus 43% compared to the same period for the 2019 season the league mentions in a publication.
MLB’s streaming service allows consumers to view games that are not on the market. Fans streamed 121 million minutes of live games on the opening day, making it the most watched day in MLB.TV history.
However, the record high among streaming viewers comes after some political setbacks.
MLB decided to do the 2021 All-Star Game after controversial voting laws were passed in Georgia. The July 13 game was scheduled to take place at the Atlanta Braves Truist Park, but the competition has been moved to Colorado.
Republican lawmakers criticized the move, threatening to repeal antitrust laws that favor MLB. According to a current report from the research company Consult tomorrowMLB’s favoritism rating dropped 35 points with the Republicans after the move.
MLB also has strong viewership in relation to ESPN’s Sunday Night package. With Nielsen statistics, the DisneyOwnership owned his Sunday MLB package has expired 33 percent compared to the overall average for 2020.
In the first two weeks of the program, an average of 1.58 million viewers listened to the game Sunday Night. That number was around 1.19 million throughout the 2020 season.
The two parties are nearing a deal on a new media rights deal as ESPN’s $ 5.6 billion eight-year rights package expires. The network currently pays MLB approximately $ 700 million a year for rights, including Sunday Night baseball, and all-star competition, including the home run derby
But there was speculation about ESPN could part ways with the weekday package on Monday and Wednesday. Unlike the Sunday games, the weekday games are not exclusive as the local markets also broadcast the game, which means ESPN is losing viewership.
Some media experts believe the package is valued at between $ 150 million and $ 200 million a year. MLB has already set new rights fees at Fox Sports and AT & T’s own Turner Sports.
MLB returned to a 162-game schedule this season after a 60-game campaign in 2020 due to the pandemic.