- Low World Series views doesn’t matter
Low World Series views doesn’t matter
The viewership numbers for the World Series don’t matter.
Leading into the Fall Classic there was a general air and misguided notion that it was the least compelling World Series matchup in baseball history. Both teams entered the postseason via the Wild Card and mostly stormed their way through the tournament. There have been phenomenal performances by the Texas Rangers and some glimpses from the Arizona Diamondbacks. Yet, there is too much focus on the fact that this World Series is trending towards being the least-watched World Series ever.
It’s true, the Rangers and Diamondbacks aren’t the most compelling matchup from a broad national sense. The Rangers have been overshadowed by the Houston Astros for several years and the Diamondbacks are one of two teams in the National League West that don’t play in California. It’s understandable that viewership numbers would be done since some of the biggest and most popular teams and their fanbases aren’t involved in the final bid for a championship ring. This is the first World Series since 2016 that hasn’t included either the Astros or the Los Angeles Dodgers in the final round. Do fanbases that may be bitter about watching division opponents that ousted them in the postseason want to sit down and watch those games? There are more factors to why people wouldn’t watch the World Series this season that you could theorize about.
Building off of the fanbase alliance feels like a natural cause to lower viewership. The World Series often isn’t for the more casual fans. Fans of that nature are more likely to not hunt down the ability to watch the World Series if they don’t even recognize the two teams that are playing. Hardcore fans who live and breathe baseball will absolutely do that regardless of whether they like the two teams or not. The postseason is a time to pick a pony for the race and readjust when that pony falls a few lengths short. Unlike an an event like the Super Bowl, there isn’t much herald celebration about the World Series to draw in the masses outside of the dedicated fans. By the end of October, baseball is usually in the rearview mirror for a lot of sports fans. Personally, I watch the World Series if it’s on, but I’m not as invested since I don’t really care who wins the whole thing because it isn’t my team.
It’s also worth noting that the Rangers and Diamondbacks don’t exactly have the biggest fanbases, people follow them for sure, but compared to the other fanbases in the playoffs, they fall done the power rankings quite a bit. You have to factor in that the fans who care the most are actually at the game and not sitting at home watching on television.
The same kind of viewership decline occurred during the 2023 NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and the eventual champion Denver Nuggets. The Heat were a number eight seed that made their way to the playoffs and the Nuggets were somehow still underrated and overlooked despite being the best team in the NBA with one of the greatest players of all time on their team. They weren’t the big teams that feature star players like LeBron James and even larger fanbases, but it was followed by fans of basketball and the devoted fanbases of those two teams. Who cares if some random family in Iowa isn’t watching the championships on TV?
The media world and the sports themselves don’t do themselves many favors in promoting the sport equally. In the baseball world, the media and the league itself pander more toward the coastal teams and the big markets. It makes sense since that is where the majority of the base is but it has the unintended consequence of not knowing what to do when a team like the 100+ win Atlanta Braves doesn’t even make it past the NLDS. Though they may deny it, media bias is quite evident in sports, especially baseball. The chasm that exists between how different teams operate in different locales can confound even the greatest minds. The national media will promote the storylines that they feel are most compelling and fit a specific narrative that deem is best for the game of baseball.
This isn’t to say all media members who cover the sport fit this stigma. Writers like Jeff Passan of ESPN, whose job is to cover MLB day in and day out, are fully engrained into the lifeblood of the baseball world. He can share interesting stories and narratives and make you want to care about the people and teams involved in the World Series. He doesn’t bemoan the fact that the Diamondbacks won less than 90 games and are there but rather celebrates it and tells their story for a wider audience. MLB has done a terrible job promoting its product to a wider audience, choosing to focus on their favorite children while generally ignoring the other 15 or so kids.
Then there is a matter of actually being able to watch the games. TV continues to be a weird place as more and more people and families “cut the cord” and move away from live TV. Live TV streaming services, combined with continually rising prices of other streaming services, and the cost of decent internet capable of handling all of it, is costly. My own family got rid of cable television this year in order to cut costs and therefore haven’t been able to watch any postseason baseball because it’s so difficult to find a simple (and legal) way to watch the games. We have access to MLB.TV but even that requires an extra subscription in the postseason that isn’t worth the cost.
Just because fans aren’t necessarily watching the games doesn’t mean they aren’t following the games. MLB Gameday in conjunction with radio options provides reliable ways to keep pace with the action. Also, if you are savvy to scrolling on X you’ll be more than able to follow the action even if it isn’t on a pitch-by-pitch basis. The bottom line is that media consumption in this day and age goes beyond television viewership numbers which doesn’t determine the validity of the World Series results.
The 2023 World Series has been an exciting one, highlighting teams that haven’t always been in the spotlight. Sure they don’t feature the biggest names and stars of the sport, but the World Series is a place for players to evolve into those kinds of names and find a place in baseball. I don’t care that the viewership numbers on TV are down, I do care about how significant this World Series is to the growth of the game on the field as both fanbases in Texas and Arizona have the chance to invest in their teams even more.
You may also be interested inread more
Steel Curtain Network: A Pittsburgh Steelers podcast
Steelers vs. Browns, Week 2: 1st Half News, updates and open thread