Following the success of the NFL's airing of a special broadcast of the NFC Wild Card Game on Nickelodeon this past weekend, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has announced that baseball will be following suit with a kids-centric presentation of Major League Baseball on C-SPAN in 2021.
The NFL appeared to have struck marketing gold on Sunday as millions across the country tuned into the Nickelodeon stream, which featured fun on-screen graphics as well as the controversial choice of having people who actually appeared to enjoy the game in the broadcast booth. The more laid-back atmosphere was applauded on social media, and consistent references to Nickelodeon programs of the 1990s and 2000s offered both nostalgia and entertainment for fans of all ages.
Major League Baseball, which has historically struggled to reel in younger audiences, is hoping to capitalize on the NFL's success with a partnership of their own: with the non-profit political platform, C-SPAN.
"The league is committed to increasing viewership among younger demographics, and we hope that with this initiative we can take a step towards growing a renewed appreciation for baseball in today's youth," the commissioner said in his remarks earlier this afternoon.
The Weekend Series is set to be played sometime in July (date TBD), and will feature a two-game battle between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Detroit Tigers. The presentation will include exciting onscreen graphics of classic C-SPAN characters to help keep kids engaged, such as a CGI Bernie Sanders that drones on and on about the Brooklyn Dodgers, and a fun Snapchat filter of Ted Cruz's double-chin. There will also be a special broadcast team in the booth, headlined by John Smoltz and Steve Kornacki.
"Our market insights indicated that, after Nickelodeon, C-SPAN was the next most favored channel among the youth demographic," said the commissioner. "We are confident this deal is a step towards lowering the average age of an MLB fan to just 56 years old by 2023."
"I believe you can even catch Pokémons during the broadcast," Rob Manfred beamed, perhaps revealing more about the state of MLB's marketing than he had intended. He also revealed that for the Weekend Series only, Players are also permitted to choose from any of four pre-approved cleat colors.
When asked about whether MLB pursued any other television partnerships, Manfred did note there was a "significant argument" to partner with the Weather Channel instead, coming from an unnamed player in the Angels organization.
After his closing remarks, Commissioner Manfred ended the press conference and turned to exit the room. The media pool was beginning to file out when the commissioner darted back to the lectern, out of breath, with the following:
"I want it to be made very clear, that there will be no slime on our broadcast. Major League Baseball takes the foreign substance policy very seriously and will pursue repercussions for any player caught using slime or any other substance, which will result in an immediate suspension and $50,000 fine."