While the lyrics to the song are “Take me out to the ballgame,” listening to America’s Pastime, whether at home, work or in the car, is nearly as popular as sitting in the stands. A new report from Nielsen shows that Major League Baseball is the most listened to sport on radio.
Nearly 12% of all adults have listened to a game broadcast on radio in the last year, according to Nielsen Scarborough. Radio trails in park watching of baseball (13.9%) and TV viewing (41.7%). Overall, 28.7% of U.S. adults say they are “very interested” or “somewhat interested” in Major League Baseball, according to Nielsen Scarborough USA+ 2017 Release 2 (June 2016 - November 2017).
Nielsen’s PPM radio ratings for April showed a seasonal increase in sports radio stations as the baseball season got underway. As Inside Radio reported, New York Yankees games on “The Fan” WFAN-AM/FM New York (660/101.9) more than tripled the Entercom sports station’s 6+share at night (1.8-6.3) in the April PPMs, which began the same day as the MLB season, March 29. It was a similar scenario for the crosstown New York Mets flagship radio station, iHeartMedia talk WOR (710), which also more than tripled its 6+ share at night (1.0-3.4). KNBR San Francisco, WIP Philadelphia, WSCR Chicago and KBME Houston also saw strong April numbers thanks to the boys of summer.
Furthermore, Nielsen reports the share for sports radio peaks in the fall, coinciding with the World Series and the beginning of the NFL season.
While the relationship between baseball and radio goes back more than 100 years, TV also gains from the 162-game season with nearly 42% of adults in the U.S. having watched an MLB game on television. TV sponsorships are big money, as the static frame of the camera lends itself to prominently featuring client logos on the flat screen. Banking, insurance, automotive, beer, airlines and telecommunications are the top sponsorship categories in MLB games so far in 2018, Nielsen said.
The slower pace of the game, with time between pitches and batters, also provides ample time for sponsorship messages to be read during radio broadcasts.