I love baseball. And I loved winning our home opener.
But as a fan, I’m disappointed, frustrated, even embarrassed, about steroids in baseball.
I saw Barry Bonds play in his quest for 756 versus the Cubs at Wrigley Field last year.
I’ve never heard so many people yell so lustily (mostly “cheater,” “liar” and F-bombs). Yet these same people were snapping pictures of his every move. Surreal.
Sure, baseball should survive. . . it has a long history and avid fan base, right?
Not so fast.
Fan loyalty is eroding according to a “loyalty index” developed by consumer research group Brand Keys of New York. When the steroids scandal first appeared in 2005, baseball’s loyalty index dropped to an all-time low of 91 (119 is ideal). Slowly, the numbers improved as fans began to accept the possibility that some of their heroes had used performance-enhancing drugs and by 2007, the number had moved up to 109. The Mitchell Report was released after the 2007 study, and in 2008 the number has dropped to 101. If more negative news comes out, the number will drop more as the MLB loses more long-time fans.
The areas of greatest concern in the study: authenticity, fan bonding, and history and tradition.
So, what would I do to fix it?
Build better bonds. Sorry. Pun intended.
But seriously, I’d recommend the MLB focus on creating a stronger bond with their core fan base. The customers that are still loyal now. The die-hard fans that buy season tickets, go to Spring training, and post on blogs. The connectors that bring friends to the games, that spend money on concessions and buy the gear. And they should make sure they include loyal fans that don’t speak English.
And that appears to be what the MLB is doing.
Go to MLB.com and take a look at some of the things that the MLB is doing to build relationships with baseball fans:
- Mobile options, including scores, schedules, news and stats alerts for players, ringtones and more
- Online polls
- Fan forums
- Ticket exchange
- RSS feeds
- Localized versions of it’s site in Spanish, Japanese, Chinese and Korean
- Fan blogs, where you can add your baseball blog for free
- And, of course, you can buy plenty of MLB merchandise
Not everything is new on the site. Nor is it groundbreaking or all free. But it’s way better than the joke the MLB had a few years ago and it does give info-hungry fans the ability so save and share a lot of content.
I’d suggest the MLB cut prices on the content they charge for or give it away for free. Make selected MLB videos excerpts available for download on YouTube and other video sharing services but charge for the whole game.
So, what do you think the MLB should do to build better bonds with its fans?