Major League Baseball established a new record for revenues during the 2022 season, according to Maury Brown of Forbes. Forbes reports that while net revenues (that is, after expenses) were unavailable as of publication time, MLB is believed to have accrued revenues of between $10.8 and $10.9 billion last season. For perspective, the previous record was $10.7 billion, set in 2019.
MLB's new fiscal high water mark comes after a tumultuous multi-year stretch that saw the league weather multiple revenue-reducing developments. There was, of course, the early stages of the COVID-19 global pandemic that shortened the 2020 season and limited fan attendance to the postseason. (Attendance restrictions were by and large lifted throughout the 2021 campaign.) Last season, meanwhile, saw the league overcome the enthusiasm-dampening own-goal that was the owner-imposed lockout.
As Forbes notes, MLB's record revenues stem in large part from their ability to land new broadcast deals from several media partners, including FOX, ESPN, and Turner. Here's a snippet from Brown's analysis of the situation, and the impact that dynamic is having despite reduced attendance overall:
The increase in gross revenues is striking as it comes at a time when game attendance continues to decline. While attendance jumped 42.3% compared to 2021 when the start of the season saw most ballparks at no more than 20% capacity, the 2022 regular season was down nearly 6% compared to 2019, the last season before the pandemic. Major League Baseball has seen attendance drop nine straight seasons when taking 2020 out of the mix. Since the last increase (+1.97% from 2011 to 2012) league attendance has dropped -14%.
Interested readers should check out Brown's piece for more analysis, as well as insight into the league's economic state.