Leisure life was limited until 20 years ago, so sports that are easy to access for men and women of all ages have gained great popularity. In Korea, professional baseball was the most loved stage by fans. However, with the changing times, a crisis has come to professional baseball, the most popular sport.
As income increased and there were more ‘things to do’ besides sports, there were steady voices that a crisis was coming throughout the industry. On top of this, sluggishness in international competitions and disappointing incidents and accidents of players and clubs overlapped, making it difficult to attract new fans as well as existing fans leaving. In fact, the total number of spectators in the KBO League peaked at 8 million in 2016 and 2017, then declined.
The novel coronavirus infection (Corona 19), which broke out in 2020, was a decisive blow. Fans had to forcibly ‘take a look’, and the joy they could feel at the stadium disappeared. In addition, as leisure activities that can be done at home besides sports became sensational, the baseball field began to be forgotten among fans. As the situation lasted longer than expected, sales of clubs decreased, and the overall baseball industry shrank significantly. It was a great crisis.
However, 2022 was the year when I was able to see a ray of hope. As society entered the ‘post-corona’ era in earnest, the efforts of the KBO and each club that they could no longer lose fans shone. Celebrating its 40th anniversary, KBO prepared for the future by creating several committees under the strong drive of President Heo Gu-yeon. Clubs also concocted various ideas to bring back departed spectators.
As a result of analyzing various data, we can clearly read the signs of a slow rebound after taking the bottom of the fall. According to data commissioned by the KBO to a polling agency, in 2022, baseball fans began to pay more attention to the KBO League. 46.3% answered that there was no significant change in interest compared to the previous year, and 24.2% answered that interest increased. Fans of top-tier teams such as LG, SSG, Kiwoom, and kt showed a much higher than average response that their interest increased. At the time of the same survey in 2019, 18.8% responded that interest had increased.
The word that penetrates the ‘post corona’ era is online. You have to find a baseball field, but you are not necessarily a baseball fan. In a situation where the corona era is not completely over, there are many fans who enjoy ‘safely’ baseball at home on TV or mobile. Because of this, TV viewer ratings or the number of viewers on portal sites have now become as important indicators as the total number of spectators. You can read some positive points here as well.
Although it varies depending on the method of calculating viewer ratings, overall professional baseball viewer ratings have been steadily downhill from 2018 to 2021. However, 2022 gave a signal that it had hit the bottom, rising about 10% compared to 2021. 토토사이트 It is a common story among industry insiders that KIA, SSG, and LG, which had good grades compared to the previous year, saw a significant increase in viewership.
Wired and wireless viewing data, such as portal sites, also increased significantly compared to 2021, keeping pace with TV ratings. On the contrary, there is an analysis that it recorded more than the increase in TV viewer ratings. If this upward trend continues for another two years, it is possible to interpret that it will escape from the bottom.
The number of spectators, which is the most traditional indicator for measuring ‘fan heart’, was 6.07 million, a significant drop compared to the heyday. It is true that there is still a long way to go before peak recovery. However, the explanations of the officials that it should not be seen by the old standards are convincing. This means that consumption trends are changing and it is difficult to directly compare the number of spectators with the past.
An official from a club said, “As clubs installed table seats, the capacity of all stadiums has decreased compared to before. It is clear when compared to the gardens of the 8 million era.” The seats are sold first. The cheering seats are popular, but there are many cases where the outfield where the game is not visible is not preferred even if there are tickets. It is interpreted as being related to the consumption trend of the younger generation, so it does not necessarily mean a full crowd. Rather, the unit price has increased more than when the number of spectators was high. In the case of our club, this year is the best unit price ever.”
In fact, the total ticket sales for the 2022 regular season were about 89.4 billion, not much different from 2017 (about 89.8 billion), when the number of spectators was the highest. More positive data can also be expected once COVID-19 is over and society returns to full normalcy.
Of course, it’s a story that hit the bottom, not a story that you can be satisfied here. There is a long way to go for professional baseball to develop into a more sophisticated, stable and large industry.
In his New Year’s address, KBO President Heo Gu-yeon also announced the goal of continuing fan first, performance in international competitions that can raise interest and pride of baseball fans, improving baseball infrastructure, and improving regulations and systems for industrial growth. If you play baseball well and have fun, fans will come to you, which was proven once again in the case of some teams last year. So 2023 is a major crossroads. Fans who are contemplating whether to take a step back or not should be honored. The unity of the members is essential.