After a long, hot slog of a season in which thirty Major League Baseball (MLB) teams play in a combined total of 2,430 games from April through September, the real excitement begins in the fall with the MLB Playoffs. Indeed, the entire month of October is a feeding frenzy for sports fanatics. Professional (and college) football have gotten underway with their respective seasons, with basketball and ice hockey not far behind. And linking these major sports together is baseball’s last hurrah — the MLB Playoffs, which begin Tuesday, October 3rd with the American League Wild Card game.
Unlike the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League, baseball does not allow over half the league’s teams to participate in post-season play, so where a baseball team finishes in the regular season carries a lot more weight! In all, just ten MLB teams make it through the regular season and into the playoffs where the vast majority of games are carried on cable. Last season, four cable networks aired 28 playoff games with the bulk of them (25 in total) appearing on Fox Sports 1 and TBS. While Live audience levels were down from previous seasons, they were still quite respectable with an average Live U.S. household rating of 2.77 (good for a 5.24 average share). Source: Viamedia analysis of comScore TV Essentials
But the real ratings story behind the MLB playoffs is that, it not only delivers a highly engaged television audience, but one that is also very upscale and educated with the highest ratings peaking in homes with an annual income of $175,000 – $199,999 (i.e., 3.34 Live rating, which is 32% higher than the national U.S. household average.) And with an audience that skews upscale, it is not surprising that the highest viewing homes also are highly educated with college and graduate degree households accruing the highest viewing indices (113 and 118 respectively):
Home Town Cooking
As is the case with football, basketball and ice hockey, our national pastime of baseball is really a hometown sport, and when the hometown team makes the playoffs its local market ratings soar (back, back, back) way over the fence. Below is a sampling of games from each round of the American and National League playoffs. As one example, the Game Six National League Championship Series contest between the Chicago Cubs and the Los Angeles Dodgers pulled down a very strong 6.1 U.S. household rating. But in the Chicago DMA, the rating was 33.9, eclipsing the national average by a factor of over five:
Local Cable Advertising Demand
Over the past two playoff seasons (2015 & 2016), 450 local cable clients have ordered 4,700+ 30-second spots across 63 Viamedia markets, which represents approximately 85% of Viamedia’s national footprint. That comes to an average of over 10 spots per client.
(Source: B.I.G.SM database — Copyright © 2017 by Viamedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved)
In terms of local cable advertising categories, Automotive captured the lion’s share of investments at 37%. Over the course of an entire year, this figure would not be that much higher than what we normally see company-wide across all Viamedia clients; moreover, in the context of other sporting events, Automotive’s 37% share of playoff baseball advertising is decidedly on the low end. But that requires further qualification. The bulk of playoff baseball is compressed within the month of October — a time of heightened political advertising that cuts into the share levels for all other ad categories. In point of fact, Automotive’s company-wide share during the month of October fell to 22% (over the past two playoff seasons) which casts Automotive’s 37% playoff baseball share in an entirely different light:
There’s something very special about autumn playoff baseball. The season begins in the warm promise of spring; runs throughout the long, hot summer months; and then reaches a crescendo in the first cool days of autumn. That’s when the timeless game of baseball seems to speed up as the games are compressed into short playoff series, creating the most intense, exciting baseball of the entire year. Enjoy the games!
Check out the 2017 MLB Postseason Schedule.
Written by Jonathan Sims
VP of Media Research, Viamedia