MLB 2024 Season Preview: Expect More Fans Watching on Cable TV and Streaming

02.20.2024 Sara Brasfield5 min

Looking for opportunities to build brand awareness among a local audience? Look no further than Major League Baseball, which will open its 2024 season at the end of March. Between spring training, regular season games, and the dynamic postseason, there are countless opportunities for advertising during the MLB season.

Across both regional and national broadcasts, MLB broadcasts rank as the most-watched local programming in many major U.S. markets. This consistent audience draw, combined with near-daily game action from late March through September, offers local businesses a reliable and proven advertising option across both cable TV and streaming platforms.

This year’s MLB schedule is particularly promising: after building strong viewership momentum in 2023, the 2024 season could be positioned to beat last year’s strong numbers and deliver even more value to supporting advertising campaigns. Here’s a quick overview on what you need to know as you plan out your advertising during the MLB season:

Shorter Games Led to Viewership Gains in 2023

Prior to the 2023 season, MLB implemented one of the most significant set of rule changes in the league’s history, many of which were designed to speed up gameplay to attract modern, younger audiences.

Those rule changes proved to be a huge success. After the average length of an MLB game hit an all-time high in 2021, clocking in at three hours and 10 minutes, the average game length in 2023 dropped to about two hours and 40 minutes.

It’s no coincidence that the league saw a stark increase in fan engagement: fan attendance across the league hit an all-time high, and linear TV viewership was up 26 percent over the first three months of the regular season.

While deep playoff runs from small-market teams impacted the league’s TV ratings in the postseason, there’s no question that 2023 is likely to serve as a pivotal season for MLB, helping it connect with a new generation of fans. Across cable TV and streaming broadcasts, businesses should plan their media buys with the belief that this resurgent audience is here to stay.

New Rule Changes for 2024 Aim to Further Enhance the Fan Experience

While the rule changes shortening game times in 2023 were viewed as an uncertain gamble only a year ago, the strong results and favorable fan reception in 2023 gave the league’s competition committee more confidence in implementing additional changes in 2024.

While these amendments are largely viewed as modest refinements of 2023’s more ambitious package of rule changes, many of the new rules are designed to maintain a faster pace of play that has proven popular among fans. The most significant such changes include:

  • A reduction in the pitch clock from 20 to 18 seconds;
  • A shorter time allotment for pitching changes during the game;
  • A reduction in allowed mound visits from five to four.

The mound visit reduction was approved after learning from fan surveys that mound visits are one of the least popular events during a baseball game.

In total, these changes should further appeal to fans eager for a faster game that features fewer unnecessary interruptions.

Compelling Storylines are Already Taking Shape

Like any other sports league, fan interest in Major League Baseball is driven by big storylines. Here are some of the most compelling narratives fans will be following in 2024:

  • Will Ohtani deliver a World Series for the Dodgers? After leaving the Los Angeles Angels as a free agent, Shohei Ohtani signed a record-setting contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, which also brought in several other marquee players in an all-out bid for a World Series title. Whether they can pull it off remains to be seen.
  • Will the Yankees return to their winning ways? After an injury-plagued and disappointing 2023 season, the New York Yankees are facing an ultimatum this season: if they can’t make a deep postseason run, ownership may take drastic action to rebuild this team into a winner. All eyes will be on star slugger Aaron Judge as he makes his return from a frustrating toe injury suffered last season.
  • Which small-market team will make a surprise run into postseason contention? It happens every year: some small-market team with a modest team payroll climbs out of obscurity to challenge deeper-pocketed teams for a World Series. Last year, the Baltimore Orioles finished with the second-best regular season record despite owning the second-smallest team payroll. Fans are already making their predictions for 2024’s MLB Cinderella story.

Advertising During the MLB Season

With a 162-game regular season, plus spring training and postseason play, Major League Baseball offers excellent advertising options for small businesses targeting a local audience. A digital advertising partner can help you identify cost-efficient inventories and plan media buys to support your advertising goals throughout the 2024 season.

Ready to get started? Contact us today.

About the Author

Sara Brasfield

Sara is a Marketing Manager on Cox Media’s corporate team in Atlanta, with a passion for writing and delivering relevant insights for advertisers. With more than nine years of experience in B2B marketing, Sara aims to help Cox Media’s current and future clients connect with their customers find new and unique ways to grow their business. Outside of the office, Sara loves spending time running, reading, and supporting her favorite sports teams (Go Braves & Gamecocks!).

View All of Sara Brasfield's Blog Posts

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