MLB needs on-field interviews to continue

Ben Rosen, Reporter

During the 2020 Major League Baseball (MLB) season, broadcasters for FOX Sports and ESPN interviewed players while they were on the field during the game. During this year that experiment was a good way to get fans more engaged in the game, and they should continue it into 2021.

This is a way to keep them engaged during the game since they cannot be in the ballpark. Fans are a big part of the atmosphere of a baseball game and the MLB needs to expand a decreasing fan base.  

According to Sports Pro Media the 2019 World Series deciding Game 7 drew 23.20 million viewers on FOX, which was also the 44th most watched World Series on record according to the Baseball Almanac, compared to the 2020 World Series deciding Game 6 which drew 12.62 million viewers. The 2020 series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Tampa Bay Rays, which went six games, with all six airing on FOX, recorded the lowest TV rating for a World Series on record. 

According to the Baseball Almanac the last time a World Series had an average viewership of more than 20 million was the 2016 World Series in which the Chicago Cubs defeating the Cleveland Indians in seven games helped the ratings resulting in a 12.9 rating for the series and the highest rating FOX has drawn for a World Series in the last 18 years.

Each of the six least watched World Series on record have happened after the year 2007 and only four World Series in that time period have drawn at least a 10.0 rating and three of the four went to a Game 7. The 2009 World Series was the only one that did not have a Game 7 to reach a 10.0 or more rating in that time period, but it featured the New York Yankees winning their 27th championship.

To keep fans engaged and bring in new fans, continuing to interview players and coaches during a game can be a benefit for the league and its broadcast partners, FOX Sports, ESPN and Turner Sports. 

The networks did a very good job of finding players willing to do the interviews, mainly featuring outfielders. This is because those players are on their own and less likely to be involved in a play unless the ball is hit out of the infield. An alternative is interviewing players while they are in the dugout, or interviewing coaches, if the networks are worried about players being distracted.

These problems can be avoided if the networks handle the situation properly and find the right combination of broadcaster and player or coach that can continue to be a success well into the future.