Have you ever found yourself double-checking your watch or TV schedule, puzzled by the odd starting times of Major League Baseball (MLB) games? Why would a game start at 7:07 p.m. instead of the seemingly more logical 7:00 p.m.? This curious aspect of baseball scheduling might seem like a quirk at first glance, but there’s a method to the madness, steeped in tradition, strategy, and a deep understanding of the fan experience. In an era where every minute counts, understanding the rationale behind these seemingly odd start times reveals much about the business and culture of baseball.

As an aficionado of America’s pastime, delving into the reasons behind these unconventional start times not only satisfies curiosity but also deepens our appreciation for the game. The intricate dance of pre-game rituals, television broadcasting requirements, and fan convenience paints a picture of a sport that, while steeped in tradition, is also acutely attuned to the modern demands of its audience. From the pomp and circumstance of player introductions and national anthems to the strategic scheduling that allows fans to rush from the office to the stands, every detail is meticulously planned to enhance the baseball experience.

In the following sections, we’ll explore how these unusual start times serve as a nexus of MLB’s efforts to honor its traditions, maximize television revenue, and cater to the lifestyle of its dedicated fan base. By dissecting this aspect of the game, we position ourselves to not only understand but also to more thoroughly enjoy each pitch, hit, and home run, knowing that even the start time was chosen with the ultimate goal of elevating our experience of the beloved game of baseball.

Reasons for Odd Baseball Game Start Times Detailed Explanation
Pre-Game CeremoniesBefore the first pitch, there’s a lot happening: player introductions, warm-ups, national anthem(s), and more. These activities start at the top of the hour, resulting in the game itself beginning at an odd time.
Television BroadcastingNetworks take advantage of the odd start times to introduce the game, highlight stakes, and squeeze in commercial breaks. This pre-game coverage appeals to viewers and brings in ad revenue, especially since the start of the game usually attracts the most viewers.
Ad Revenue ImportanceThe unique start times cater to peak viewership moments, allowing networks to charge a premium for commercial slots. Reports suggest that during significant games, a 30-second ad can cost over $500,000.
Ceremonial First Pitch A tradition since 1910, the ceremonial first pitch is thrown by an honorary guest, often a former player, celebrity, veteran, or notable fan, adding to the pre-game festivities and contributing to the delayed start.
Fan AccommodationOdd start times like 7:05 or 7:08 PM are strategically chosen to accommodate fans coming from work, especially during weeknights. This provides a buffer for fans to arrive at the stadium in time for the game.

Reasons Behind Odd Start Times in Baseball

Pregame Traditions

Before delving into the nuances of the game’s start times, let’s understand the rich tapestry of pregame events that set the stage for baseball games. These traditions not only honor the sport’s heritage but also serve as an appetizer for the main event.

  1. Traditional pregame activities: The time leading up to the first pitch is packed with rituals that encapsulate the spirit of the game. This includes player warmups, team introductions, and the vital player lineup announcements. These activities ensure both players and fans are in sync and ready for the game ahead.
  2. The importance of ceremonial first pitch and national anthems: The ceremonial first pitch is a storied tradition, dating back to 1910 with President William Howard Taft, that bridges the gap between the sport and its community, often featuring celebrities, veterans, or notable public figures. Moreover, the national anthem, and sometimes anthems, particularly in games played in Toronto, serve to unite the crowd under a banner of national pride, celebrating the country’s heritage and the sport’s role within it.
  3. How pregame activities contribute to start times: These rituals are meticulously timed and serve a dual purpose. Firstly, they honor baseball’s deep-rooted traditions and those who have served or are serving the country. Secondly, this schedule directly influences the odd start times for games, ensuring that these rituals are preserved without cutting into the game’s playtime.
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Television Broadcast Requirements

Television plays a pivotal role in determining baseball game start times. Here’s how:

  1. The role of ad revenue in determining start times: The start of a game captures the peak viewership, as fans tune in eagerly to catch the action from the get-go. This window is golden for networks, allowing them to demand top dollar for commercial slots, sometimes reaching upwards of $500,000 for a 30-second spot during high-profile games.
  2. Increasing viewership through strategic scheduling: By scheduling pregame activities to start at the top of the hour, networks carve out a sweet spot for a brief but engaging introduction followed by a commercial break. This not only builds anticipation but strategically boosts viewership numbers right before the game begins.
  3. The impact of broadcasting contracts on game schedule: The intricate dance between broadcasting networks and the MLB in curating game schedules cannot be understated. Networks aim to maximize their view counts and ad revenue, influencing the odd timing of games to ensure that the pregame content draws in as many viewers as possible.

Fan Convenience and Attendance

The timing of baseball games is not solely for the benefit of television networks; fan convenience plays a crucial role as well.

  1. Scheduling games post-work hours for fan accessibility: Recognizing that the majority of games occur on weeknights, the MLB thoughtfully considers the after-work crowd. Odd start times, like 7:05 or 7:08 pm, are deliberately chosen to allow fans ample time to transition from their workday hustle to the excitement of the ballpark.
  2. Maximizing in-person attendance through thoughtful timing: This scheduling strategy is about balancing fan convenience with maximizing attendance. The slight delay in start times is a calculated move to ensure stadiums are as full as possible, enhancing the atmosphere and energy of the game.
  3. Enhancing the fan experience by accommodating lifestyles: By acknowledging the lifestyle and commitments of the average fan, the MLB ensures that the live baseball experience is as accessible and enjoyable as possible. This consideration extends beyond just the game itself, factoring in pregame activities and overall convenience.
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Impact of Odd Start Times

On Television Audience

  1. Boosting viewership with pregame content and commercials: The strategic placement of pregame content and commercials not only serves to ramp up excitement but also significantly impacts viewership numbers. Networks use these tactics to ensure that fans are glued to their screens from the moment the broadcast begins.
  2. Financial implications for networks through ad slots: The initial high viewership translates directly into lucrative advertising opportunities. The ability to command high prices for these prime slots has considerable financial implications for the networks, reinforcing why the game start times are so carefully considered.

On In-Stadium Fans

  1. Facilitating stadium arrival for working fans: The odd start times are not arbitrary but are designed with the working fan in mind. This scheduling allows fans to navigate post-work traffic and logistics, ensuring they can partake in the full game-day experience.
  2. Enhancing the game-day experience with pregame rituals: The build-up to the first pitch is an integral part of the game-day experience. These moments, filled with tradition and anticipation, elevate the overall atmosphere, making each game about more than just the sport.

On MLB Revenue

  1. Maximizing advertising income through strategic scheduling: The MLB, much like the networks, benefits financially from the strategic scheduling of games. The prime advertising slots at the beginning of broadcasts are a significant source of revenue, influencing the decision to start games at these peculiar times.
  2. Balancing fan convenience with financial goals: The MLB’s scheduling strategy strikes a balance between ensuring fan convenience and meeting its financial objectives. By optimizing for attendance and television viewership, the league maximizes its revenue streams, demonstrating the financial acumen behind these odd start times.

Reasons Behind Odd Baseball Game Start Times

Pregame Rituals– National Anthems
– Ceremonial first pitch
– Announcing starting lineups
– Recognizing an exceptional fan, player, or veteran
Provides a structured beginning to the game.
Television Broadcasting– Game introductions by broadcasters
– Commercial breaks
– Maximizes viewership at the game’s start
– According to reports, 30-second spots can cost more than $500,000 during big games.
Generates significant ad revenue.
Attendee Accommodation– Aimed at accommodating the after-work crowd
– Majority of games play on weeknights
Ensures higher in-person attendance.
Historical Significance– The ceremonial first pitch tradition started in 1910 with William Howard Taft.
– National Anthem ritual became popular during World War II.
Preserves the tradition and history of baseball.

Television Impact and Ad Revenue on Baseball Game Start Times

Importance of Start TimeThe unusual starting times are primed to capture maximum viewership at the beginning of the game when audience attention is at its peak.
Ad Revenue GenerationThe initial minutes of the game leverage the heightened viewership by inserting commercial breaks, with ad spots during significant games costing a premium.
Viewership and Audience DrawOdd start times and strategic pre-game content are meant to draw in viewers right from the beginning, maximizing engagement and ad exposure.

Audience Accommodation and Pregame Ritual Influence

FactorInfluence on Game Start Times
After-Work CrowdAdjusting start times to allow more spectators to arrive post-work.
Pre-Game ActivitiesAllocating time for rituals like the National Anthem and first pitch.

Key Traditions Affecting Baseball Game Start Times

Ceremonial First PitchStarted by President William Howard Taft in 1910.Honors a guest of significance; bridges baseball with community and historical figures.
National AnthemBecame a staple during World War II.Pays homage to the country and those serving in the military.
Player IntroductionsEssential part of pregame.Builds excitement and informs fans about the starting lineups.


In drawing this review to a close, it’s evident that the peculiar start times of baseball games, particularly those under the Major League Baseball umbrella, are anything but arbitrary. As we’ve delved into the reasons behind this scheduling quirk, it’s clear that a strategic blend of tradition, fan servicing, and commercial interests dictate these unusual start times. From the essential pregame ceremonies that pay homage to baseball’s rich history and cultural significance, to the alignment with television broadcasting requirements designed to maximize viewer engagement and advertising revenue, each factor plays a critical role in setting the stage for what is more than just a game—it’s an event.

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As someone deeply immersed in the world of baseball, my recommendation for fans is to embrace these odd start times as a unique aspect of the MLB experience. Understanding the rationale behind these schedules can enhance your appreciation of the game, allowing you to plan accordingly, whether you’re making a beeline to the stadium after work or setting up for a watch party at home. As you anticipate the next big game, remember that these timings reflect a thoughtful consideration of multiple facets of the baseball experience, from the fan’s journey to the park to the economic realities of sports broadcasting. Ultimately, these decisions underscore Major League Baseball’s commitment to delivering an unparalleled entertainment experience, both on and off the field.

Questions and answers about why do baseball games start at odd times

Why do baseball games not start right at the top or bottom of the hour?

Baseball games often start at odd times because of a combination of pre-game activities and television broadcasting strategies. These activities include player introductions, the national anthem, and the ceremonial first pitch, among others. They usually begin right at the top of the hour, which pushes the actual game start time to a few minutes past. The TV networks utilize this time to introduce the game, highlight what’s at stake, and incorporate commercial breaks, aiming to capture and maintain the viewers’ attention from the start.

How do pre-game rituals affect the start time of baseball games?

The pre-game rituals in baseball, such as the performing of national anthems, announcing starting lineups, and the ceremonial first pitch, are substantial events that contribute to the game’s odd starting times. These rituals can take up to ten minutes before the first pitch is thrown. The tradition of these rituals dates back to as early as 1910 and has become an integral part of the game experience both for the fans attending in person and the viewers watching on television.

Are television broadcasting contracts a reason for odd start times?

Yes, television broadcasting contracts play a significant role in the odd start times of baseball games. The pre-game window allows broadcasters to include game introductions, highlight packages, and a commercial break before the first pitch. This setup is designed to maximize viewership and advertising revenue, especially since the start of the game typically draws the highest number of viewers. The networks leverage these odd starting times to enhance audience engagement and capitalize on advertising opportunities.

Does fan attendance influence the odd starting times of MLB games?

Indeed, fan attendance is another factor contributing to the odd starting times of MLB games. Games often start at times like 7:05 or 7:08 PM to accommodate fans coming from work, especially on weeknights. This slight adjustment from a more rounded time allows fans extra minutes to arrive at the stadium, settle in, and enjoy the pre-game activities without missing the start of the actual game. This consideration is crucial for maintaining and enhancing the live game experience for the after-work crowd. Understanding these underlying reasons for baseball’s odd starting times showcases the careful consideration of fan experience, media engagement, and tradition that goes into scheduling MLB games. These timings are not arbitrary but are instead a calculated effort to balance tradition, fan convenience, and commercial interests.

By Joseph Johnson

Joseph Johnson is the main writer on the site. He prepares up-to-date news and reviews on baseball.