Widely regarded as one of the greatest baseball rivalries of all time, the recent San Francisco Giants vs. Los Angeles Dodgers playoff series drew quite a large viewing audience. While this presented opportunities for advertisers and stations due to the draw for ratings, it's also important to understand the nuances of how audiences engage differently across local markets.
View the analysis below, which leverages Comscore TV data to analyze the recent 2021 National League Division Series (NLDS) to provide insight into these nuances at a local and national level, enabling more impactful media planning.
California local markets saw significant engagement and viewership during the 2021 NLDS
The Los Angeles Dodgers have now been featured in three consecutive National League Division Series (‘19-’21), and an in-state rival has stood in their way for the last two – the San Diego Padres in 2020 and, for the first time in league history, the San Francisco Giants in 2021.
Using Comscore’s market heat map, we can easily see that both the San Francisco-San Jose and Los Angeles markets experienced notable “temperature” spikes when comparing their markets’ live audience viewing to that of the national live viewership for the 2021 NLDS. More precisely, San Francisco-San Jose watched TBS at a 136% higher rate than the nation, compared to Los Angeles that experienced at a 109% Market to National Variance.
This indicates that TV audiences in the San Francisco-San Jose and Los Angeles markets were far more engaged with the 2021 NLDS broadcasts than the rest of the country. Interestingly – but not surprisingly, given the historic and local nature of the playoff series – the surrounding markets in California also saw an uptick in viewership compared to out-of-state markets: Sacramento saw a 109% market to national variance, Fresno saw 87%, Santa Barbara-Santa Maria saw 83%, while Bakersfield saw 87%.
We also took a look at previous years’ viewership of NLDS games as a further comparison point. Surprisingly, during the 2020 NLDS, the Los Angeles market saw a –18% Market to National Variance and the San Diego market remained the same as the rest of the nation. This is interesting as we would expect both markets to experience a very high variance compared to the rest of the country having two in-state teams playing against each other. One possible reason for the low engagement during the 2020 NLDS playoffs could be due to pandemic-related trends. During the 2019 NLDS (LA Dodgers vs. Washington Nationals), most of the major local markets in California saw a higher engagement during the playoffs.
Diverse Audiences Engage with MLB Playoffs
Using Comscore Advanced Audiences to further segment MLB viewers reveals strong engagement across diverse audiences. Hispanic and Asian American audiences typically over-index in terms of watching the NLDS series, especially this year and in 2019.
The Playoffs consistently attract sought-after segments, such as auto intenders and upper income watchers
When trending data over the last three years of MLB playoff games on TBS, Comscore TV data indicates strong and consistent over-indexing in top household income segments. Between 2019 to 2021, households with more than $75,000 in income were consistently more likely to tune into the NLDS series than the average household. Households with higher incomes, such as $250,000 and up, over index even more highly, at 148 in 2021.
Drilling down further, we can see those sought-after segments, such as Households with A25-54 who intend to spend $40,000+ on an automotive purchase in the next six months, tuned into the 2021 NLDS series 43% more than the average viewer, which surpassed even 2020 and 2019 levels. Other attractive segments, such as premium do-it-for-me automotive intenders – those who plan to take their vehicle to an automotive service center, like the one at their local dealership – tuned into the 2021 series 19% more than the average household, which also beat 2020 and 2019 levels.
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