Korean baseball: Will Americans get up (or stay up) to watch?

Graeme BruceBusiness Data Journalist
May 05, 2020, 7:10 PM UTC

Some Americans appear to crave live televised baseball so badly, they may be willing to alter their sleep schedule.

After two months struggling to fill broadcast hours in a world devoid of all major-league sports due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ESPN is now airing South Korean pro-baseball, but the time difference means games will be televised stateside in the early morning with start times between 1 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. EST.

According to data compiled by YouGov Direct, roughly two in five (41%) of users who are interested in Major League Baseball said they were at least somewhat interested in watching the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO).

Of those users who showed an interest in watching a Korean ball game, a little more than a third (36%) said they’d watch it live on television, while the same number (36%) said they’d watch it via a streaming service; 13 percent said they’d record it and watch it later.

Delayed since March, KBO’s season-opening game between the NC Dinos and Samsung Lions aired on ESPN at 1 a.m. ET on Tuesday, not in front fans in the stands, but rather place cards that resembled face-mask-wearing people.

"The KBO League is one of the greatest baseball leagues with world-class players and many exciting initiatives," KBO commissioner Un-Chan Chung said. "During this unprecedented and difficult time, I hope the KBO League can bring consolation to the communities and provide guidelines to the world of sports. I am pleased that the KBO League can be introduced globally and hope this can be an opportunity for the development of our league and the sport."

Methodology: Data is based on 867 interviews with YouGov Direct panelists. Interviews were conducted through the YouGov Direct app on May 5, 2020.

Image: Getty