During MLB Playoffs, Networks Encourage Fans to Watch Their Competitors


By Associated Press | Reviewed by Sturdy McKee, PT

Who is your Competition? According to Inc. Magazine, some networks do not see other networks as competitors during the Major League Baseball (MLB) playoffs. They, instead, hope that promoting the sport and the playoffs will help to build interest in the league and that will, in turn, benefit all of the networks that broadcast that sport. They emphasize that the audience is highly targeted and not loyal to a network but rather loyal to the sport and the league.

Major League Baseball has contracts with Fox Sports and TBS. During the American League Championship Series and National League Championship Series each was promoting the other to enhance the appeal and viewership of MLB in general.

The MLB and the National Football League (NFL) have contracts with at least two networks each that last through 2021 and 2022, respectively. The National Basketball Association’s (NBA’s) contracts with ESPN and TNT last until 2025. This long-term view appears to have also contributed to more collaboration among the networks, and an understanding that promoting the leagues, as well as each other, helps to build the entire audience. They have even gone so far as to trade ad space to provide greater benefits to the sponsors and supporters of the sports.

Recently, ESPN and Fox have agreed to collaborate with Major League Soccer and each other. “We’re going to work together to try to elevate the sport,” said ESPN president John Skipper with Fox’s president Eric Shanks while announcing their new deals in May, according to the article.

There are lessons physical therapy practices can learn from in this article. If network executives can learn to collaborate in order to collectively benefit from each other’s actions, then should we not?

We often look at each other as competition. We look at where other physical therapy practices are located when we open our practices. We scope out their websites and copy their initiatives and promotions with a tweak or improvement here and there. Some of us hesitate to refer a patient to another physical therapist at a different practice if we think they are not sufficiently far away, when we could be promoting physical therapy in all its forms as a safe, efficacious, and cost-effective solution to people’s movement problems.

Julie Fritz, along with Childs, Wainner, and Flynn, have documented that nationally only about 7 percent of people with low back pain get referred to physical therapy.1 Jeff Hathaway and John Childs have presented at the Private Practice Section (PPS) Annual Conference in years past sharing that 7 to 11 percent of people who could benefit from physical therapy are never referred. Nationally 45 percent of people with low back pain are administered narcotics.2 If these statistics are to be believed, then an overwhelming majority of people who could most benefit from our training, our expertise, and our care are not seeing any physical therapist. They may not even know we exist. Now, imagine a world in which we are moderately successful in getting the word out about what we do and only 49 percent of the people who could benefit from physical therapy got to us. That would be a five- to seven-time increase in the size of the market over who we are currently helping.

When people need a ¼-inch hole, they buy a ¼-inch drill. The drill is the solution; the path, to the hole. When they have low back pain (or shoulder pain, an ankle sprain, a neurological condition, lymphedema, etc.), people are not really looking for physical therapy. They are, rather, looking for a solution. Our real competition is MRIs, CTs, injections, surgeries; substitutes like yoga, acupuncture, Pilates, and chiropractic; and a lack of knowledge about what we do and what we can offer for people in their quest to get better. Our competition is not other physical therapists or physical therapy practices at all.

If we were to work together to promote the idea of physical therapy as a valid and valuable treatment and remedy for a myriad of conditions, as the cliché goes, a rising tide raises all ships.

Our competition is substitution and other alternatives, as the patient sees them, as well as simply doing nothing. People seek to escape from their low back pain through narcotics, advanced diagnostic testing, injections and surgery when, in most cases, physical therapy is the most efficacious and cost-effective alternative, but they do not know this fact. And for too long we have all relied on the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) to promote us. While the APTA is doing a good job with what it has, more hands working on this problem would help us all to advance awareness and the use of physical therapy.

As Turner Broadcasting System President David Levy states in this article “If Skipper does well, I do well. If I do well, Skipper does well, because the brand does well.” If physical therapy does well, if you do well, then I’ll do well, because the brand will do well. Let’s all do well.


Sturdy McKee, is a PPS member and the co-founder and chief executive officer of San Francisco Sport and Spine Physical Therapy, SleepSling and ScheduleDoc.co. He can be reached at sturdymckee@gmail.com, www.linkedin.com/in/sturdy or @Sturdy..