The MLB Draft, Futures Game, Home Run Derby, and All-Star game get underway on Sunday. The MLB All-Star week is a huge opportunity for the MLB to introduce new fans to the league.
MLB All-Star Week Provides the League With An Opportunity to Connect With New Fans
Over the last several years the MLB has hoped to find ways to connect with younger fans. The “Let the Kids Play” campaign was one way they approached this, by showcasing some of the best young players in the league and their approach to the game. On the field, the MLB has looked at increasing entertainment by removing the shift, and shortening games with a pitch clock.
The MLB All-Star week festivities are another way for the league to increase interest among younger fans. The first round of the MLB Draft will be televised on ESPN yet again this season, and the Home Run Derby features a great group of players. These events, along with interviews during the All-Star Game, are a few of the ways MLB is increasing interest among younger viewers.
MLB Draft, Home Run Derby Are Important Events for the Future
For several years, the MLB Draft was not an event that was marketed aggressively. Most seasons the draft was only on the MLB Network, and many fans were unfamiliar with the best players in the draft.
Over the last several years the MLB has set out to change that. ESPN began broadcasting the first round, and competitive balance rounds, of the draft in 2020. For the third year in a row, the first 39 picks in the draft will be broadcasted on the network.
Unlike prospects in the other leagues, the players selected in this week’s draft are unlikely to make an impact in the MLB until the end of 2023, or 2024. The time spent by players in the minor leagues was one of the main reasons why the MLB Draft wasn’t a league event that was emphasized by the MLB or television partners for several years.
However, the draft is an opportunity for fans to become more familiar with the players entering an organization. It also creates excitement and familiarity with some of the best prospects in the minor leagues before the start of their MLB careers.
The decision, made ahead of last season, to move the draft to MLB All-Star week also places greater emphasis on the event. The draft, along with the Futures Game, helps make the week about all aspects of the game, from its future to the best players currently in the league. It helps all fans, but most importantly younger fans, become more connected and informed about their team’s future.
Another important piece of the MLB All-Star week is the Home Run Derby. This year’s field for the event is a great example of how the MLB can feature its stars on the league’s biggest stage.
Pete Alonso, Ronald Acuna, Jr., Albert Pujols, Kyle Schwarber, Corey Seager, Julio Rodriguez, Juan Soto, and Jose Ramirez are the group of players participating in this year’s event. Last year, Shohei Ohtani participated in the Home Run Derby.
Having stars like Alonso, Acuna, Soto, and Seager participate in the event is vitally important to the future of the league. Featuring young prospects like Rodriguez, who is the AL Rookie of the Year favorite, helps more fans become aware of him before he participates in his first All-Star game the next day.
Ensuring that the Home Run Derby has an exciting field helps fans become more familiar with the best players in the game in an exciting event. It is also a great way to introduce new stars, like Rodriguez, to a national audience.
In-Game Interviews and Conversations Are the Future of the All-Star Game on TV
Another way the MLB has helped All-Star weekend become an important showcase to connect with fans and increase interest is through on-field interviews during the game. Interview moments during the game have increased entertainment during the event and are popular on social media.
Those interviews help fans learn more about multiple players. Almost the entire All-Star roster for each team will appear in Tuesday’s game, as they have in every prior year, and during the last few seasons, multiple players from both leagues have been interviewed.
This is yet another way the MLB is attempting to take advantage of an event that often has some of the highest viewership of any game for the league. It helps build the brand of players and teams and creates and features season-long storylines fans follow; such as when Cody Bellinger and Christian Yelich were interviewed at the same time, together on the field in 2019 when they were competing with each other to win the NL MVP Award.
MLB All-Star week is an important way for the MLB to increase interest in the league and connect with a younger group of fans. Continuing to add events and draw more attention to what takes place each July will benefit the league as it moves into the future.