Football vs. Baseball: Which Is More Popular?

Football vs. Baseball: Which Is More Popular?

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Many sports fans know baseball as “America’s Favorite Past Time”.  Other sports fans believe that football is currently the most popular sport dubbing as their “Favorite Sport to Watch”.  So which way is it?  Which sport is currently more popular?

Football has far surpassed baseball as the premier sport in terms of popularity.  In fact, according to a 2017 Gallup Poll, 37% of United States adults selected football as their favorite sport to watch. 

Read on to learn more about why football has surpassed baseball in terms of popularity.  Also, we will answer some related questions and talk about he differences between the two sports.

Reasons Sports Fans Like and Dislike Baseball

So much of life comes down to personal preferences and it is no different with sports!  Here are some reasons why some folks like and dislike the game of baseball.

Reasons for Liking Baseball

  • Baseball can be relaxing to watch as a fan. There are always several seconds between pitches, so the fans are not overly stressed about missing an important moment.
  • There are many games to choose from in baseball.  Major League Baseball regular seasons last 162 games.  This means fans can enjoy a game almost any night of the week and are not just limited to the weekends.
  • The slower pace allows time for fans to talk to their family and friends in between pitches.  The slower pace of a baseball game would also make a great first date because of the relaxing talk time between big plays.
  • Most baseball games are played in the summertime which means the weather is usually pleasant.  Most folks love being outdoors after working a lot of hours cooped up inside of an office building.
  • Baseball is a sport built on traditions.  In fact, many children are raised to like the same baseball team as their parents and grandparents followed in previous generations.  Also, baseball games are known for offering tasty food options such as hot dogs, apple pies, and cracker jacks!

Reasons for Disliking Baseball

  • The slow pace makes the game of baseball seem boring to some people. In our current day and time where most folks are obsessed with technology and instant gratification, baseball requires practicing the dying art of patience.  This is simply too difficult for some folks.
  • Baseball games take a long time to complete.  This turns some fans off and turns them away from the game.  In fact, the average baseball game took over 3 hours to complete in 2019!   Remember, that number is just for 9-inning games.  There are several instances where baseball games last 4 to 5 hours because of the teams being tied and extra innings needed to be played.
  • Baseball games often start at late times in the evening, especially for fans in the Eastern time zone that want to watch a game being played in the Pacific Time Zone. This makes it hard for some folks to watch, especially children who go to bed early or adults that have an early work schedule the next day.  In fact, some baseball games do not start until 10:05 PM Eastern Time.  Lots of folks on the East Coast are in bed at that hour.  This severely hurts Major League Baseball’s TV ratings across the country.
  • Since there are so many regular season games, each individual game does not seem to mean as much until the season reaches the final month (September).  Granted, a win is always a win, but a win in September during a pennant race is much more exciting than an early season win in April.

Reasons why Sports Fans Like and Dislike Football

Reasons for Liking Football

  • There is hard-hitting action on every single play in the game of football. Even on a simple running play, the offensive and defensive linemen are trying to push each other around and hit each other as hard as humanly possible. The constant excitement in a football game simply cannot be ignored.
  • Football is easy to follow since only 1 game per week is played by each team.
  • Football games are typically played on the weekends. This means games are much easier to watch for most folks since they do not have to work on weekends.  Many NFL and college football fans throw huge watch parties for friends and family while their favorite teams are playing!
  • Football games usually start in the afternoon and early evening.  Yes, there are 3 NFL night games per week on Monday, Thursday, and Sunday but there are 13 other NFL games that start in the daytime.  This means that most games do not conflict with fans’ bedtimes.

Reasons for Disliking Football

  • Some people do not like violence and football is a very violent sport.  In fact, it has been proven that multiple hits to the head (like what occurs during football) can lead to a type of brain damage called CTE
  • The football season is short in length. College football is extremely exciting but the season only lasts for 3 full months (September, October, and November).  Many fans say to themselves, “Man! I just got used to watching my favorite team every weekend, now the season is already over”.
  • Football games take a long time to complete.  This is due to the many TV timeouts and breaks after each quarter, as well as a longer break at Halftime.  Football games have also increased in length since the introduction of Instant Replay.  Instant Replay is an asset for the game of football, but it often causes extra delays.  Many busy folks do not have time to sit down and watch an entire football game.  Like baseball, football games take over 3 hours to complete.

What are the differences between baseball and football in terms of popularity?

Let us look at each of these sports from a popularity standpoint that is strictly from a statistical standpoint.  Here are some intriguing numbers.

  • In the 2017 Gallup Poll example from above, 37% of American adults voted football as their favorite sport to watch.  In that same study, only 9% of folks selected baseball as their favorite sport to watch.  That number for baseball is the lowest percentage it has gotten since 1937! 
  • Baseball was selected as the most popular sport in polls from the 1930’s until the 1970’s.
  • Football surpassed baseball in terms of popularity in 1972 and has ranked #1 ever since.  I guess Baseball’s phrase of “America’s Favorite Past Time” is definitely true according to the numbers.
  • Football has triple the popularity when compared to any other sport.  This comparison includes baseball, basketball, and soccer. 
  • Using stats from 2019, the average football game had nearly 70,000 fans in attendance.  The average baseball game drew just under 30,000 fans.
  • In 2019 the NFL had a total revenue of 15.26 billion. The MLB had a total revenue of around 10.7 billion.
  • The average NFL franchise is worth about 3 billion dollars!  The average MLB franchise is valued at a little over 1.7 billion!
  • The NFL Super Bowl brings in more overall money than the baseball AND basketball playoffs combined. NFL vs MLB: Revenue, Salaries, Viewership and Ratings (wsn.com)
  • It is interesting to note that even though football is currently more popular than baseball, baseball players make more money than football players. The average MLB player makes more than double the average NFL player.

What are the differences in ticket prices between the MLB and the NFL?

Not only does the NFL crush the MLB in terms of overall popularity, but the NFL’s ticket prices are also nearly triple the cost of MLB’s ticket prices.  Using 2017 data, the average NFL game ticket costed a little more than $90.  The average MLB game ticket cost was a tad over $30. 

This is due to the good ole law of economics called supply and demand.  The demand for NFL tickets is higher than the demand for MLB tickets.  Also, remember that the NFL regular season is only 16 games whereas the MLB regular season is more than ten times that at 162 games!  This means that there is a higher supply of baseball tickets than football tickets.  That explains why NFL tickets are so much more expensive.

Does baseball or football attract higher TV ratings?

Again, football dominates the numbers in this category!  The NFL’s most watched regular season game in 2017 drew nearly 27 million viewers!  

On the other hand, the MLB’s most watched regular season game for 2017 drew in slightly less than 7 million viewers. 

Both the NFL and the MLB enjoy TV deals with all the major networks, and this provides both sports leagues with a huge amount of revenue!

See Also:
Why Doesn’t The MLB Have A Salary Cap? Read This First!
How Long Do High School Baseball Games Last?
Can A Pitcher Return To The Mound In The MLB?
Do MLB Umpires Pay for Travel? Read This First!


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