Last Saturday evening, I was in Dayton, Ohio, sitting at a barbecue joint which I will honor by not mentioning its name. (If it had a motto, based on the waiter’s remarks, it would be, “Sorry, we’re changing the menu.”) For a reason unrelated to the alleged food, I was glad I came.
As I examined my appetizer plate of Tender Vittles, someone changed a TV screen from random hockey highlights to a baseball game. Featuring the local team, the Dayton Dragons. Broadcast on local over-the-air TV. Cool!
It turns out that Dayton is one of seven* minor-league baseball teams that broadcast some of their games on free OTA TV. As I have mentioned before, there are practically no local major-league baseball games on broadcast TV outside of New York City and Chicago, so this is a nice alternative.
With cord-cutting accelerating, Dayton and the other minor-league OTA broadcasters are smart in at least a couple of ways. They’re reaching the 25% of households that don’t subscribe to pay TV. Especially for those viewers, they provide an attractive, typically unique live-sports option. Everyone who watches is treated to what’s effectively an infomercial for watching games in person. And the teams are nurturing a new generation of baseball fans.
There are also at least another half dozen minor league teams that broadcast over local cable, but that can’t be as beneficial. Cable subscribers can switch over to major league baseball games or plenty of other sports options, so these minor league teams are less likely to pull in fresh fans. Ditto for MiLB.tv, an economical source for over 5000 (!) games a year, since its subscribers must already be minor-league baseball fans.
So here’s a note of thanks to Dayton, despite the cuisine. More major-league teams should be taking lessons from the Dragons.
* I checked every minor-league team’s web site and found 2016 OTA TV information for Dayton, Durham NC, Indianapolis, Lehigh Valley PA, South Bend IN, Winston-Salem NC, and (Appleton) Wisconsin. If I missed one you know about, please leave a comment.