Author: Gina Mason
This year’s World Series has been exciting, tense and bizarre to say the least. Outside of the unruly “Boston Beards,” we have seen some of the most off-the-wall game-ending plays that resulted in some much needed baseball buzz. Between the controversial obstruction call on Saturday and the game-ending pickoff on Sunday, for the first time in a while people everywhere were talking about baseball. Whether you are an avid baseball fan or simply looking to discuss the plays around the water cooler, people everywhere tuned into this wacky series to see what was going to happen next.
It has been no secret that the MLB has struggled over the last few years getting people excited about the postseason, especially when big market teams like the New York Yankees are eliminated from the race. However after the strange series of events, the MLB reported that this year’s World Series averaged “13.4 million viewers through the first three games,” a statistic that is “15% higher than last year and the highest average since 2010.” Forbes also noted that nearly 16 million people tuned into Game 4 on Sunday which was most watched event on primetime, beating Sunday Night Football (a triumphant feat in itself). The statistics are even more impressive considering that Boston and St. Louis have more of a regional fan base and less of a hold on the national market.
The most interesting aspect of the obstruction play was that it not only generated buzz, but it also expanded the audience to a group of people who may not have watched baseball before (something that people pay millions of dollars to accomplish). To capture the attention of non-baseball fans and keep them engaged is something that is very difficult, but the odd series seemed to make that happen. People everywhere tuned into to the World Series to see how this toe-to-toe match was going to end and witnessed the Boston Red Sox emerge as victors.
The key to all of this attention was the obstruction call and how the MLB took advantage of the unexpected attention. As you all know the obstruction play was unintended, but it was an attention-grabber from the start. The MLB reported that there were 110,238 unique tweets that were sent out within the first five minutes of the obstruction play. Everyone from rapper Lil’ Wayne to NFL kicker Jay Feely to your average Joe shared their opinions on the play via social media. Whether you thought Will Middlebrooks intentionally tried to tripped up Allen Craig or not, the debacle grabbed people’s attention and got people talking.
Shortly after grasping the attention of millions of Americans, the MLB capitalized on the buzz and kept the conversation going. Not only was the play discussed on every broadcast and in every newspaper in America, but the MLB amped up it’s activity on its social media sites to engage its audience. @MLB tweeted 15 times between 9pm and midnight after the obstruction call as details from the players and umpires emerged. The MLB continued to post over 15 tweets within the next 24 hours with statements and quotes from players/coaches/umpires about what happened in Game 3 keeping the fans completely engaged until the start of Game 4. Almost out of sheer luck, the MLB was able to cash in on an additional unusual game-ending play when pinch runner, Kolten Wong was picked off (something that has NEVER happened in a World Series game before). As if the MLB hit the lottery, they were able to recycle and repeat the tactics that were used for the obstruction call.
The MLB took full advantage of this “buzz” marketing scenario by capturing this electric series and turning this drama into not only revenue for the league, but increased viewership among the nation. I guess the old saying, “All press is good press” is very true in this case.
We would love to hear your comments on the World Series. What did you think of this year’s World Series and what was your opinion of the obstruction call?
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