MLB: Marketing to London is a non-starter – and I can help prove it

MLB, for the second straight year, has scheduled games in London with the hope of promoting the sport in Great Britain. It’s a hopeless endeavor…

MLB has announced for the second straight season, major league teams will engage in a two-game series in London, to be billed as The Mitel & MLB Present London Series 2020.

MLB: Hopefully the last of a misguided experiment (Photo: London Stadium)

On June 13-14, the attention of the baseball world will be drawn to paying attention to contests between the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs.

As NL Central rivals and predicted to be in play for the Division title, those games would naturally draw the attention of any fan who gives a hoot about major league baseball.

But these games are targeted at a specific audience 3,000 miles from the shores of the United States and America’s Pastime.

And if the ultimate goal is to increase the number of games and committed teams, even to the extent of globalizing baseball by adding a team in Europe – MLB is barking up the wrong tree, and I believe I can prove it.

The dream is a good one, and the efforts of Commissioner Manfred to expand the game are to be applauded.

The MLB Circus Coming To Town For Two Days Doesn’t Tell Us Much

MLB will be the first to tell you that tickets for the two-game series in 2019 between the Yankees and Red Sox sold out in 45 minutes flat (a fact).

Noticeably, what they have yet to tell us is the costs MLB absorbs to do business for two days.

And that FOX-TV, the benefactor of the novelty in ad revenue, would relish in proclaiming that London’s perceived apathy toward baseball. One hundred twenty thousand tickets selling out in 45 minutes does not say indifference.

Smitten For Two Days Does Not Constitute Love

But what is missing is that for 363 days a year, the Brits don’t give a hoot about baseball.

MLB: Give It Up – You Can’t Win – Soccer Rules

And what MLB doesn’t tell you is that London is host to thirteen professional football (i.e., soccer) teams within its metropolis that attract its citizenry any day one or more of those teams are playing.

Thirteen has to tell MLB something, compared to three cities in America having the privilege to host a mere two teams.

But apparently, this has escaped their attention. On January 19 of this year, a soccer contest between Liverpool and Manchester captured 1.2 million viewers in the United States on the obscure (can you find it) BCSN and Telemundo channels.

We can only guess, and perhaps MLB would like to believe last year’s games in London attracted the same number of viewers in a city of only 9 million.

MLB: Here’s A Sample Of Data To Consider

Now, I said, in the beginning, I can prove MLB’s expensive attempt to court British fans is foolhardy, and that I can prove it.

My website, Reflections On Baseball, like all sites these days, can track where visitors are coming from based on reader viewership

With specific interest to the topic at hand, and from reliable WordPress stats, reference this data to draw your conclusions (Note: Nearly all readers are from the United States):

***  November 2019  30K Total Views  477 Canada 85 Puerto Rico 61 United Kingdom

***  December 2019   58K Total Views 648 Canada  164 Puerto Rico 98 U.K.

***  January 2020 (Inc.) 21K Views  679 Canada 100 UK 88 Puerto Rico

The data shows that the real interest lies in Canada and Puerto Rico, and not London.

This is not to claim these results as comprehensive or conclusive. But it is suggested that a two-day splash across an ocean is a marketing plan with no legs.

Canada, of course, has a team in Toronto that has demonstrated an avid fan base over the years. Montreal has been in and out of MLB but always is deservedly mentioned a future franchise when the subject moves to expansion.

Puerto Rico Seems A Natural – Not London

But there sits Puerto Rico. If I were to list the past or current major league players who have hailed from Puerto Rico – I wouldn’t have the time or energy to do so.

There’s trouble in Puerto Rico, and all of it stems from a severely unkind Mother Nature. A hurricane followed by an earthquake that wipes out countless lives and infrastructure in Puerto Rico is something MLB may not wish to be invested in.

Rebuild and economic support is essential. There appears to be little interest coming from the White House, but MLB, together with the Player’s Association, can, for instance, have a plan to control and subsidize ticket and refreshment prices.

We’re talking long term here and not just the series scheduled to be held between the Mets and Marlins in late April.

Puerto Rico 2020 Series - Mets vs. Marlins
Puerto Rico 2020 Series – Mets vs. Marlins

That’s all well and good. But there needs to be more.

And what’s more, MLB on behalf of the current players hailing from Puerto Rico, let alone the historical collection of players from Puerto Rico since baseball’s inception – most with family and friends there – deserve more for what they’ve contributed to baseball.

Or maybe, it’s my cynical mind working to suggest MLB doesn’t want anything to do with Puerto Rico because they hear an exodus of star players to the team playing there.

MLB has been negligent in recognizing the pot of gold that is present in not only Puerto Rico but Cuba and the Dominican Republic – all of whom are much closer than a trip across the Atlantic Ocean.

MLB: The Agreement Ends This Year – Stop The Fantasy

As a final thought, consider that MLB scrapped plans to open the 2020 season in Asia. Why? Asia, in contrast to Europe, Japan, and Korea, needs no introduction to baseball. Fans eat it up.

The two-year agreement between MLB and London ends after the 2020 series. Renewal for reasons other than the circus coming to town for a couple of days is not to be found.

MLB has the right idea to globalize baseball. But they have a lousy geographic plan to execute growth in the sport…

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Author: stevecontursi

I am an amateur writer with a passion for baseball and all things Yankees and Mets.