MLB Fan Cave Closing Its Doors, But Could It Be Opening A Door For A New Opportunity?

In 2011, Major League Baseball (MLB) opened the Fan Cave on the corner of Broadway and 4th Street in Manhattan where two baseball fans had the “dream job” to watch every single MLB game that season. Mike O’Hara and Ryan Wagner shared their thoughts and interacted with fans through Facebook, Twitter, a blog on MLB.com, and constant video posts. O’Hara and Wagner would also interview players and connect them with fans through social media. Additionally, upcoming pop stars would perform concert at the Fan Cave in an attempt to connect baseball with pop culture. The MLB Fan Cave was widely regarded as a major success, as was considered MLB’s social media hub. The Fan Cave continued from 2012 to 2014 with a new format of a Survivor-style contest where a winner was crowned at the end of the season. The social media interactions, player interviews, and concert series from 2011 remained in the new format. In 2014, the MLB Fan Cave partnered with MTV2 to launch a TV series “Off the Bat” to further connect MLB and pop culture. Below are example videos from each season featuring my favorite team, the Baltimore Orioles.

2011:

2012:

2013:

(If you recognize the PA Announcer’s voice yes, that is Ryan Wagner. After being a participant on the MLB Fan Cave, he was named the new PA Announcer for Camden Yards.)

2014 (from Off the Bat):

Last month, Major League Baseball announced it was ending the MLB Fan Cave after four seasons. The MLB emphasized this decision was not based on a failure of the MLB Fan Cave, but rather to consolidate all of its social media activities through MLB Advanced Media (MLBAM). During the life of the MLB Fan Cave, the social media activities of the league differed from the Fan Cave. As a result, confusing resulted on who would be responsible in promoting certain MLB events. The MLB said it would continue certain aspects of the MLB Fan Cave but the actual contest of having fans watch every game will end. Bob Bowman, president of business and media at the MLB, believes the end of the MLB Fan Cave is just the beginning of a larger social media movement.

In the past, the MLB has struggled connecting with its younger fans. People cite the length of the game and season, as deterrents in following the sport. Additionally, the MLB has long resisted changing the game and enjoyed its reputation as being a traditional sport following century-old rules. I believe the decision to consolidate all social media activities under MLBAM are part of a broader effort to modernize the game and move away from the traditionalist mindset. Last season, MLB expanded instant replay and this year, the league is implementing “pace of game” rules in order to speed up baseball games. I think the success of the MLB Fan Cave in connecting younger generations of fans may have contributed to these changes. The MLB knows it must attract younger fans, and since younger fans have increased their interest in the recently, the league wants to take advantage of this opportunity.

Questions:

  • Do you agree with MLB’s decision in closing the MLB Fan Cave?
  • Can you think of any traditional organizations that could use a similar social media promotion like the Fan Cave to spark more interest?

Links:

http://www.sportsbusinessdaily.com/Journal/Issues/2015/02/09/Leagues-and-Governing-Bodies/FanCave.aspx

If the above link does not work because of a subscription, use this one:

http://www.sporttechie.com/2015/02/09/fan-cave-was-one-of-the-most-innovative-sports-marketing-ideas-in-recent-years/

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2 thoughts on “MLB Fan Cave Closing Its Doors, But Could It Be Opening A Door For A New Opportunity?

  1. I do not agree that MLB should close the Fan Cave, under the premise that they are trying to consolidate all of their social within MLBAM. I would agree, if it was due to a financial restructuring plan, or if it were the case that the Fan Cave proved to not to be profitable. I do believe that the Fan Cave was responsible for creating massive traffic to the MLBAM site.

    The idea of the Fan Cave could certainly be used by traditional firms for a hosts of benefits. In addition to firms, I think that celebrities can use similar ideas to strengthen their own brands. For example, in addition to using the traditional platforms of Social, celebrities might invite fans to live with them for a day, and record the entirety of the experience. This would allow the celebrities to extend their reach beyond Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

  2. To follow up on my initial post, I heard the consolidation of all social media under MLBAM is part of a larger movement created by Commissioner Manfred to make “One Baseball.” This includes amateur baseball and international leagues. It sounds like Manfred wants to eliminate any barriers between those leagues and the MLB in hopes of developing the global game.

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