Why do MLB Games Start at Odd Times?

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HomeBlogsChris Sloan's blogWhy do MLB Games Start at Odd Times?
Why do MLB Games Start at Odd Times?
Chris Sloan

Major League Baseball (MLB) games are known for starting at odd times. While most sports start their games at the top of the hour, MLB games often have start times like 7:05 p.m. or 1:10 p.m. This has led many fans to wonder why MLB games start at such odd times. In this article, we'll explore the reasons behind MLB's start time tradition, as well as the benefits and drawbacks of starting games at odd times.

Background on Major League Baseball Start Times

Baseball is a sport steeped in tradition, and one of those traditions is starting games at odd times. While many other sports, such as basketball and football, begin their games at the top of the hour, baseball games have historically started at odd times. The reason for this goes back decades, to a time when radio broadcasts were the primary way fans could follow the game.

In the early days of baseball, most games were played during the day, which made it difficult for working fans to attend. When night games were introduced in the 1930s, they presented a new opportunity for fans to attend games after work. But there was a catch: because most people worked until 5:00 or 6:00 p.m., starting the game at 7:00 p.m. would mean fans would miss the first few innings. So, to accommodate fans and increase attendance, teams began starting games at odd times, like 7:05 p.m. or 7:35 p.m., to give fans a little extra time to get to the ballpark.

Today, with the advent of television and streaming services, fans can watch games from the comfort of their own home, but the tradition of starting games at odd times has persisted.

Reasons behind odd Baseball Game Start Times

There are a few main reasons why MLB games start at odd times. Here are the most common ones:

  1. Sponsors and Advertising: MLB games are a huge opportunity for advertising, and the league takes full advantage of this. By starting games at non-traditional times, MLB can attract sponsors who may not be interested in advertising during other sporting events or at traditional times. These sponsors are willing to pay a premium for advertising during prime time slots, which can start as early as 4:10 pm or as late as 10:10 pm.

  2. Local and Regional Issues: Another reason why MLB games start at odd times is due to local and regional issues. Teams are located all over the country, and each city has its own unique traffic patterns and weather conditions. By starting games at non-traditional times, teams can avoid scheduling conflicts with other events in the area, as well as minimize the impact of traffic and weather on the game.

  3. Pre-game Ceremonies: Many MLB games start at odd times due to pre-game ceremonies. Before each game, teams will often hold special ceremonies to honor players, coaches, or other individuals who have made a significant impact on the team or the sport. These ceremonies can add an extra 30-60 minutes to the start time of the game, which is why many games start at odd times to accommodate them.

Overall, there are many factors that contribute to the odd start times of MLB games. While it may seem unusual to some fans, it's all part of the strategy of scheduling games to maximize advertising revenue, minimize scheduling conflicts, and provide a great experience for fans.

Benefits of odd start times

Odd start times may seem inconvenient, but they can actually provide some benefits to both the fans and the teams. Here are a few reasons why odd start times can be advantageous:

  1. More exposure for sponsors and advertisers: By having games start at unusual times, advertisers can reach a wider audience. For example, a game that starts at 7:05 pm may compete with other TV shows, whereas a game that starts at 6:37 pm may have less competition.

  2. Increased flexibility for fans: While some fans may find odd start times to be an inconvenience, others may appreciate the flexibility that they provide. An earlier or later start time may allow fans to attend a game without having to take time off work or make other arrangements.

  3. Better for players: Playing a game at an odd start time may actually be better for players. For example, a game that starts earlier may allow players to get more rest before their next game, while a game that starts later may give them more time to recover from a previous game.

Overall, odd start times can offer some unique benefits for fans, teams, and sponsors. While they may not be ideal for everyone, they can provide a different perspective on the traditional baseball experience.

Drawbacks of odd start times

While there are certainly benefits to having odd start times for MLB games, there are also some drawbacks to consider.

  1. Inconvenience for Fans

One of the biggest drawbacks of odd start times is that they can be inconvenient for fans. When games start at odd times, it can be more difficult for fans to plan their day around the game, especially if they have other commitments or responsibilities. This can lead to lower attendance at games, which can have a negative impact on the overall atmosphere and experience.

  1. Television Viewership

Odd start times can also have an impact on television viewership. While some fans may prefer the odd start times, others may find them confusing or frustrating. This can lead to lower ratings for televised games, which can impact revenue and advertising opportunities.

  1. Travel Scheduling

Odd start times can also present challenges for teams when it comes to travel scheduling. When games start at odd times, it can be more difficult to schedule travel arrangements, especially if teams are playing in different time zones or have other scheduling conflicts.

  1. Player Fatigue

Finally, odd start times can have an impact on player fatigue. When games start at odd times, it can disrupt players’ normal routines and make it more difficult for them to prepare physically and mentally for the game. This can lead to increased risk of injuries and decreased performance on the field.

Overall, while there are certainly benefits to having odd start times for MLB games, it’s important to consider the potential drawbacks as well.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some commonly asked questions regarding MLB game start times:

Why don’t baseball games start at the top of the hour?

Baseball games usually start at odd times, such as 7:05 pm or 8:10 pm. This is because networks like ESPN and FOX have specific broadcast windows that start at certain times. For example, FOX's national broadcast window for Saturday games is from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm ET. Therefore, if a game is scheduled to start at 7:00 pm, it will likely begin a few minutes later to accommodate the broadcast window.

Does in-person attendance play a part in MLB’s odd starting times?

Yes, in-person attendance is a factor in scheduling MLB games. Teams schedule games based on factors such as weather, travel schedules, and local events that may affect attendance. For example, if a team is playing a game on a weekday, they may schedule the game to start later in the evening to allow fans to attend after work.

How long do baseball games usually last?

Baseball games typically last around three hours. However, games can last longer if there are extra innings or delays due to weather or other factors.

Do other US sports start at odd times?

Yes, other US sports also start at odd times. For example, the NFL often schedules games to start at 1:00 pm or 4:25 pm. Similarly, NBA games can start at times such as 7:30 pm or 8:00 pm.

Can MLB teams choose their own start times?

No, MLB teams cannot choose their own start times. The league creates the schedule for all teams, taking into account various factors such as broadcast windows, travel schedules, and local events.


In conclusion, odd start times for MLB games have been a tradition in the sport for a long time. While they may seem peculiar to outsiders, they have been adopted for a number of reasons, including sponsorship and advertising, regional considerations, and pre-game ceremonies.

Despite some potential drawbacks, such as reduced TV viewership during work hours or conflicting with other evening activities, odd start times can also offer benefits like attracting more viewers during the day and allowing for more convenient scheduling for players and teams.

As with any tradition, there are those who question the practice and those who embrace it. But for now, odd start times are here to stay in Major League Baseball.

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About Chris Sloan

Chris Sloan is a former baseball league commissioner and travel baseball coach who has made significant contributions to the sport. In 2018, he founded selectbaseballteams.com, a website that helps parents find youth and travel baseball teams in their local areas. Since its launch, the website has experienced impressive growth, offering a wealth of resources including teams, news, tournaments, and organizations. Chris's unwavering passion for baseball and his innovative approach to connecting parents with quality baseball programs have earned him a respected reputation in the baseball community, solidifying his legacy as a leading figure in the world of youth and travel baseball.

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