As the calendar approaches May, it’s still uncertain as to when or if sports will be played again while the nation continues to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.
Yet Major League Baseball is in a different place than the NBA or NHL, which played most of their regular seasons but may not have a postseason that crowns a champion. Baseball has had to postpone its entire 2020 season thus far and may not play at all this year if conditions aren’t deemed safe enough and logistics can’t be worked out.
No baseball has significantly hurt the fortunes of outlets that cover the sport, depending on the day-to-day nature of games being played and statistics being accumulated. As we’ve covered previously, sites like FanGraphs have suffered a 60 to 70 percent reduction in traffic and face an uncertain future because of it.
In his Sunday Baseball Notes column for the Boston Globe, Peter Abraham looks at two other websites that are trying to maintain business despite the sport’s shutdown. MLB Trade Rumors typically averages one million page views per day but with no baseball, readership is down 40 percent. That’s resulted in a 50 percent loss in ad revenue.
Baseball-Reference would normally average 1.5 million daily page views during the season. Yet the growth of Sports Reference, which now includes statistical coverage for the NFL, NBA, NHL, soccer, college football, and college basketball has helped the company avoid the heavy losses other sites are sustaining.
MLB Trade Rumors has also expanded coverage to other professional sports. But with no games being played and business being conducted — which also means no fantasy baseball is being played — the rumors, reports, and transactions that drive interest in the site are in very short supply.
“You’re doing anything to move the needle, even a little,” MLBTR founder Tim Dierkes told Abraham. “Generally that’s depending on the news.
“We don’t know what will happen. You look ahead and wonder what the business will look like.”
Check out Abraham’s column to see how MLBTR and B-R have managed to keep their respective businesses afloat amid the absence of games and resulting drops in web traffic and ad revenue.