Hesson: Tackling baseball’s broadcaster diversity problem

From Ted Hesson at Fusion.net on April 3, 2015, with mention of SABR members Christina Kahrl and Stuart Shea:

There’s no doubt the league would benefit from more diversity among announcers. “It makes a difference in the connection you make with the fans,” [Angels broadcaster Jose] Mota said. “It makes a difference in the connection you make with the players and bringing out stories from players that perhaps speak your language and know a lot about your community, or your side of the country, or your region of the world.”

The monoracial makeup of the broadcast booths isn’t just out of step with the demographics of the United States, it’s not representative of the diversity on the field.

There was a time when 90 percent of baseball players were white — but that was 1955. Now, more than one in three players are Hispanic, African American or Asian, according to data from the Society for American Baseball Research.

More diversity could be a better business strategy, too. While baseball is still quite profitable, teams need a more diverse legion of fans — in race, age and gender (more on that shortly) — to keep the sport going.

Despite the sharp growth in players from Latin America, only 10 percent of baseball’s viewership last year was Hispanic, according to statistics provided to Fusion by Nielsen. And other sports are outperforming baseball when it comes to attracting minority fans: both professional basketball and professional football brought in a higher percentage of African American viewers than the nation’s pastime in 2014.

Baseball keeps pace among women, who made up 29 percent of the sport’s audience last year and also represented roughly a third of the viewership for the NFL and NBA.

The most worrisome demographic statistic for baseball is age: Over half of the MLB’s television audience was above the age of 55 in 2014.

Read the full article here: http://fusion.net/story/113845/baseball-announcers-are-almost-all-white-dudes-why/

Originally published: April 3, 2015. Last Updated: April 3, 2015.