Sinclair Media Group’s Greed is Strangling MLB’s Viewership and Popularity

Rob Manfred
MLB Commissioner addresses team officials and the media at the 2019 Winter Meetings in San Diego. | Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

For a number of unfortunate reasons, baseball isn't as popular as it used to be. The sport suffers enough globally in competition with basketball and soccer, but the MLB's viewership and general interest has taken a substantial dip in recent years.

Instead of making plans to resolve the league's plummeting ratings, telecommunications juggernaut Sinclair Broadcast Group decided Thursday to put an end to its athletic programming on YouTube TV, which is just the latest of several major subscription-based streaming services to get the ax.

If you typically watch your baseball via Dish, YouTube, Sling or Fubo, you'll no longer be able to watch regional coverage of your favorite teams starting Feb. 29.

According to a blog posted last May on the FanGraphs website, Sinclair purchased the rights to more than 20 regional broadcast networks that account for year-round coverage of 16 of the MLB's 30 teams. To put these numbers into perspective, one of the blog's graphs allows us to visualize exactly how many people will be affected by this.

As if baseball's popularity and viewership wasn't hurting enough, a majority of domestic MLB fans are going to have to get creative when they want to tune into their favorite team's broadcast starting this season. Purchasing media rights to distribute sports content has always been complicated, but never has it had such an effect on so many fans across the country.