Pittsburgh Pirates Viewership Falls Despite Closed Ballparks

(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

Fans could not enjoy a Major League Baseball game in person, so naturally television viewership increased.  Well, this was not the case for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Pittsburgh Pirates, along with the 29 other teams in Major League Baseball, had no idea if there would even be a complete 2020 season.  Even after all the rule changes and restrictions put in, there was still a lot of concern about whether or not the 60 game schedule would be completed.  While there were many bumps on the path to 60, the league was able to make it through the schedule and create a postseason bracket.

The few popup issues that did show up during the season were handled as players and staff were often isolated before spreading the virus too much.  A big reason why the league was able to keep things controlled was because of the lack of people in and out of the the stadiums.  This includes not having thousands of fans show up to the ballpark each day.

Overall, viewership across the MLB went up this year, which should come as no surprise.  Forbes put out an article today outlining the changes.  The league saw television ratings go up four percent overall, which is more than it sounds when considering thousands watching every night. The Chicago White Sox had the biggest increase, raising their ratings to 136 percent.  This goes from an average of about 36,000 watching in 2019 to about 90,000 watching in 2020.

The Pittsburgh Pirates did not see success from games being closed off from fans.  The Pittsburgh Pirates were among some of the other last place teams that finished toward the bottom in viewership.  Here is what Forbes had to show for the Bucs:

"The leading declines were by the Boston Red Sox on NESN (-54%), the Seattle Mariners (-36%), the Los Angeles Angels (-34%) and the Pittsburgh Pirates (-34%)."

This is not that surprising.  Teams like the Pirates and the Red Sox were battling for the first overall pick all year instead of for a playoff spot.  Even the Mariners were toward the bottom the league before finishing strong.  Meanwhile, the Angels finished in last place in the American League West.  The leagues lowest viewership belonged to the playoff bound Marlins, while that could be surprising, Miami has always struggled draw fans.

What did the Pittsburgh Pirates expect?  Probably not a whole lot more than those numbers.  The team overhauled their Front Office and coaching staff last offseason.  The new Front Office did not get into place until a little later into the offseason.  Ben Cherington did not get a real chance to set up a true offseason plan, but rather work on the fly while learning about his new team.

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Regardless, they were not going to be very aggressive in their first season.  This is not what the average fan wants to hear, they want to hear that the team is making moves to get better.  When it did not appear anything would be different in 2020 compared to the last few years, it was hard for people to buy in, especially after having such a poor start to the season.