The 2012 World Series has drawn 12.2 and 12.3 Million viewers for Games 1 and 2, respectively. According to television ratings published in Sports Business Daily, this is the fourth consecutive year MLB has seen a drop in World Series Game 1 and 2 television ratings. I have to admit that I have only watched a couple of innings this year, even opting to watch an MLS match running during the same time as Game 1 on Wednesday night.
Part of the challenge for MLB is there are more entertainment options than ever competing for fan attention (although this has not been a problem for the NFL). I believe the bigger issue is the lack of parody in the league driven by the range of total team payrolls. Not surprisingly, the Tigers (fifth) and Giants (eighth) both have among the highest paid players in the sport. It was nice to see some surprising teams be very efficient with their salary this year and make the playoffs, but inevitably, these low-payroll team playoff cameos are short-lived.
Winning the World Series as a small-market team is close to impossible. Fans in cities like Kansas City will go to a few games a year for the atmosphere and Sheridan’s ice cream, but there is a completely different feel to any other sporting event I’ve been to – there is no expectation of winning. I even saw a man reading a book in the front row at a Royals game I attended this year. Experiences like this made me excited to find this interactive visualization at Tableau which illustrates fan interest by team as of September 15th. The interest is based on tweets related to each team.
What do you think? Does the interest in your team align with your own? It was interesting to me to see that fans cared about the Giants during the regular season, but not about the Tigers. In any case, I don’t think it bodes well for MLB that fans are only passionate about a third of the teams.