There was speculation that MLB playoff TV ratings would suffer this year with the New York Yankees missing the playoffs for the first time in over a decade. It looks like not even rooting against hated rivals was enough to draw in all those lost fans, as viewership has fallen off for both the early rounds and the World Series. But has this downturn been exclusive to television?
In short, yes – the online channel has been able to avoid the same late-season slump. Unique visitors to MLB.com were up for the end of the regular season and the first three weeks of the playoffs.
There was an average of more than an 18% increase in weekly unique visitors for this period, with the usual drop-off as the weeks passed and more teams were eliminated. ESPN’s baseball pages saw a similar increase of just under 19% over 2007 numbers. The steep increases for both sites significantly out-paced the growth in the Internet browser population since last September. Media buyers may want to take note that it seems that interest still exists, but instead of spending hours watching the games live, people are now more likely to visit online channels for updates and stories.
While the Yankees missing the playoffs did cause a drop, it was more than made up for by the big market Dodgers making a run and the 100th year of the Cubs drought drawing attention.
National League teams saw a huge jump in average weekly unique visitors this year, but with the early exit from the popular and downtrodden Cubs a lot of interest was lost early as well. It seems that the MLB may accompany Cubs fans in wishing for a winner on the North side of Chicago. There’s always next year"¦