Why Do Baseball Games Start At Odd Times?

Have you ever wondered why baseball games are scheduled to start at a specific time but always start later than advertised? How often have you rushed to get home in time for the start of the game to find you had minutes to spare and could have stopped for snacks because the game started seven minutes later than scheduled?

Baseball games start at odd times for various reasons, including television schedules that must be adhered to, advertising, pre-match shenanigans, team announcements, singing of the national anthem, and on-field ceremonies before the start of the game.

Baseball trails football as the second most popular sport in the United States of America and is well-loved in Dominican Republic, Canada, Puerto Rico, and Cuba. Millions of dollars are spent on equipment and preparing for premier games, and still, the games always start at odd times. Why is that?

Three Reasons Baseball Games Start At Odd Times

There are several reasons baseball games start at odd times, and we will discuss these in more depth.

  1. Broadcasting companies schedule programs to start at specific times. Every program must start on time, allowing the following program to start on time. Television schedules require a new program to start every hour or half, meaning that when they switch to the game, the game may not start immediately, altering the starting time but not interfering with the program schedule.
  2. Sponsors invest vast sums of money in basketball teams and negotiate advertising deals with the teams and the broadcasting companies. The best time to do advertising is before the game starts. Research has shown that viewers switch channels shortly after the game finish. Therefore, advertisers and sponsors must capitalize on those precious pre-game minutes.
  3. Pre-game activities include introducing the teams, singing the national anthem(s), a ceremonial pitch, or other necessary ceremonies. All these take time to perform, leading to games starting minutes later than scheduled. Broadcasters use this time to promote sponsors, and the commentators use the time as a game build-up, talking about players, statistics, game strategies, etc.

The History Of Pre-Game Activities At Baseball

Baseball fans and players alike started singing the national anthem before games during WWII in honor of those serving in the war.

The home team nominates someone from their community to perform the ceremonial pitch. The honor may bestow on a former player, a dedicated fan, a celebrity, or anyone the team deems worthy of the honor. The tradition was started in 1910 by William Howard Taft, who performed the first ceremonial pitch to celebrate the opening day for Washington senators.

Modern Day Pre-Game Activities At Baseball

The national anthem and ceremonial pitch are still part of pre-game activities, and television added another dimension to advertising and game build-up.

Before television, games started at specific times determined by the teams and managers. Baseball crowds consisted of local supporters and traveling fans. There were no outside interferences or time schedules to consider, and games started at the pre-arranged time.

All of this changed on May 17, 1939, with the first television broadcast of the game between Princeton and Colombia at Baker Field, New York. Television broadcasts presented new opportunities. More people could enjoy away games, sports stars became heroes, and advertising started to rule it all.

Thousands of dollars are spent landing players, clubs, sponsorships, broadcasting rights, and advertisements. Every entity claims screen time before the first pitch to see a return on their investments, not forgetting the introduction of the teams and all the other shenanigans before the game starts.

Advertising During Baseball Broadcasts

Except for the thousands of stadium fans that need to be entertained and targeted with promotions and advertisements, hundreds of thousands may tune in to watch a major baseball game, and the race between companies is on to secure the prime advertising spots before, during, and after games.

Their main aim is to make the fans aware of their products or services at the best possible time, and they pay top dollar for that opportunity.

Contracts these days include additional time allocated before games to allow companies and sponsors to run one or more advertisements before the game commences. The sponsors enforce delays to the start of baseball games so they can claim the prime-time advertising slots before the game starts.

Crowds and television audiences are excited by all the action and fanfare before the game begins and are more attentive to their surroundings, subconsciously inundated with advertisements.

This way, sponsors and broadcasting companies generate yet more money.

Do Sponsors Make Money From Baseball Games

The three top sponsors for the current MBL season are Budweiser, Gatorade, and Mastercard, so be prepared to see many advertisements coming your way from these three companies. Deep pockets are required if you want to start competing against these and other sponsors for the top advertising spots during televised premier baseball games.

Broadcasting studios rely on advertising revenue to line their pockets. Players enjoy television appearances as it makes them sought after by sponsors, which means higher paying contracts, and sponsors who invest millions of dollars expect good returns on their investment.

Spectators and baseball fans enjoy the game for what it is; the fanfare, camaraderie, friendships formed, and the entertainment value connected to the game all ads to the excitement.

Editorial credit: Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com


The starting times of baseball games are determined by the companies who invest the most money in the teams, the players, and the sport. Money may not be able to pitch, catch or hit a home run, but it rules the game of baseball. Let’s play ball!


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