As you may have seen, television ratings are up for this year's playoffs. Whether measured by ratings, households watching or total viewers, the average Division Series game was seen by 11 percent more people this year than last year. That's good news for baseball, which despite its ever-increasing popularity is forever attracting odd, evidence-free lamentations about its decline and how it needs to do something or other to get past the steroid era/attract fans from smaller cities/compete with football.
Still, there is a grain of truth in one argument made by declinists, which is that baseball may not be doing enough to attract young men. (As a young man, let me hasten to add that I don't think baseball should cater to us just because we're wonderful. The point is that we're the ones who will, as we begin to make more money and raise families, serve as the sport's main audience, and so if baseball isn't attracting us, it's a problem.)
Per data Turner Sports provided us, the average Division Series game attracted 642,000 males between the ages of 18 and 34, which is up 11 percent from last year. The bad news is that this isn't, in an absolute sense, really impressive. (Per SpikeTV, for example, the average broadcast of The Ultimate Fighter is attracting 1.5 million people from the same demographic this season.) The actual breakdown is below; note the surprisingly small figures for the Boston/Los Angeles series. P represents the overall audience; M represents males.
*The Minnesota Twins/New York Yankees series delivered 1,250,000 P18-34 and 818,000 M18-34.
*The St. Louis Cardinals/Los Angeles Dodgers series delivered 982,000 P18-34 and 684,000 M18-34.
*The Colorado Rockies/Philadelphia Phillies series delivered 791,000 P18-34 and 545,000 M18-34.
*The Boston Red Sox/Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim series delivered 818,000 P18-34 and 528,000 M18-34.
Judging strictly anecdotally, I don't think people my age want to see Derek Jeter and Chone Figgins fighting in a cage, nor do they want Poochie D-style gimmicks designed to attract them away from the Internet, video games and what not. The main complaint I hear is that the games are just too long. If baseball wants to secure its future audience now while they're forming the habits that will stay with them for the rest of their lives, the thing to do would probably be to set down some clear rules that would keep games moving along. A crisper, faster game is a better game, and a better game is more easily sold to young men and everyone else.