College Football Catches Baseball as Nation's Second Most Popular Sport
In fact, a couple of months ago I wrote about baseball's decline and the rise of the NFL using Nashville's television ratings as a window into this national story. You can read that story here.
Around 70% of the World Series viewing audience has been lost in Nashville since 1997. Meanwhile, the NFL has exploded. Partly that's because the Titans are in town now, but that's not the entire story. Baseball, for a variety of reasons, is simply bleeding viewers.
The graph is also interesting because you can track the rise and decline of, for instance, the NBA based upon the Michael Jordan era of dominance. No other sport is so impacted by a single player. You can also track the growing impact of Tiger Woods in golf and then the drop in attention as Tiger's dominance has receded.
You can also see the decline in men's college basketball. As the NFL has grown in popularity, more and more college basketball has become a one-month sport, wedged into the six weeks or so after the Super Bowl ends.
I don't know about y'all, but I definitely feel that diminished interest in college basketball. It's why I've been arguing for college basketball to start its season after January 1 and run until May so that the first two months of the college basketball season aren't lost to football, the holidays, and exam breaks.
But the biggest story of the data is the rise of football at baseball's expense.
And the fact that college football has now caught baseball.
Soon, baseball will slip beneath college football as the nation's third most popular sport. Indeed, increasingly, it appears that baseball is destined for a marginalized role in our society. In fact, if you aren't an older man on the east coast, it's already there.