Matthias wrote:hm. does that theory (put in the largest-market team) hold water? tough to say. but here's some data for people (as a lawyer and an economist, i like data better than people's opinions).
so we have year, network, rating, and share.
rating being what %age of tv's in america are watching a show.
share being what $age of the tv's in the us that are turned on that are watching a particular show.
1980 NBC 32.8 56 Phillies-Royals
1981 ABC 30.0 49 Dodgers-Yankees
1982 NBC 28.0 49 Cardinals-Brewers
1983 ABC 23.3 41 Phillies-Orioles
1984 NBC 22.9 40 Padres-Tigers
1985 ABC 25.3 39 Cardinals-Royals
1986 NBC 28.6 46 Mets-Red Sox
1987 ABC 24.0 41 Cardinals-Twins
1988 NBC 23.9 39 Dodgers-A's
1989 ABC 16.4 30 Giants-A's
1990 CBS 20.8 36 Reds-A's
1991 CBS 24.0 39 Braves-Twins
1992 CBS 20.2 34 Braves-Jays
1993 CBS 17.3 30 Phillies-Jays
1994 n/a n/a n/a
1995 ABC / NBC 19.5 33 Braves-Indians
1996 FOX 17.4 29 Braves-Yankees
1997 NBC 16.8 29 Marlins-Indians
1998 FOX 14.1 24 Padres-Yankees
1999 NBC 16.0 26 Braves-Yankees
2000 FOX 12.4 21 Mets-Yankees
2001 FOX 15.7 25 D-backs-Yankees
2002 FOX 11.9 20 Giants-Angels
2003 FOX 13.9 25 Marlins-Yankees
2004 FOX 15.8 25 Cardinals-Red Sox
There's a lot of noise in this data. There's the increasing other number of options that lead to declining share in any event (MNF has experienced similar woes); there's the ebbs and flows of baseball popularity in general; there's individual players who people might be excited about; there's differences in length of series, etc., etc, etc.. So this is by no means definitive. And if someone wants to do more with it (compare it to MNF avg rating might be interesting), be my guest. You can also go further back, if you like. But, it at least provides some sort of platform for discussion.
And one thing jumps out at me. And that's that in the last 20 years, there have been two significant drops in world series share. The first occured in 1992-1993 after the Twins-Braves series, which you could maybe chalk up to the next couple involving a Canadian team (only one American city following it closely and these are US ratings) and then the fallout from the '94 work stoppage. And then after that, another falloff after the Yankees started their recent dominance, with the lowest points being the Mets-Yankees and the Giants-Angels, i.e. two teams involved from the same general geographic regions.
So it suggests a couple of things on (very, very rough) analysis: dominance of one team is bad for baseball. World series where only one region of the country is involved is bad for baseball. Big markets being the players aren't necessarily the best for baseball (look at the Braves-Twins #s compared to those around it).
Anyone wants to do more, let's see what we can pull together.
Excellent numbers. Thanks for the research.
However I totally disagree with your analysis (so please don’t try and kick that data vs. opinion crap as if you’re not living in pure subjectivity yourself).
The one thing that you are not factoring in is that the Braves are, in reality, a big market team. Their games are broadcast nationally and their fan/viewer base is significantly larger than other smaller market teams like Cincinnati or KC or, in this case, San Diego.
In that light, the decline during the Yankee dynasty is correlated to market size vs. the Yankees. Your assertion that the decline (beyond the “noise”) is due to waning interest in a dominant team runs into trouble in 1999, when there is a spike upwards. The Braves simply have a larger fan base than the Padres to draw viewers from. It’s a simple and direct correlation. It’s not rocket science, just Marketing 101.
However I do agree that the same region teams (Yanks vs Mets, Giants vs. A’s) will always draw near the bottom.
But I have a problem with just focusing on WS ratings as a sole indicator upon which to draw the admittedly rough conclusions you drew. While the national TV contract is a huge component of revenue, there are also the local numbers, box office, merchandise, etc. Moreover, baseball is an everyday game. Those who tune into playoffs, in general, are not representative of day-to-day interest in the game. The day to day revenue over the course of the season drives baseball's bottom line. I would at least be interested in comparing the 2004 and 2005 ALCS numbers with the WS numbers from those years. For me, the Marlins were an afterthought after Boone’s homerun.
Another issue you touched on was concerning superstars and big market teams. I would throw out:
Is baseball better off with A-rod in New York or would it be better off with him in Texas? Not just in terms of draw for the championship series, I’m talking on an overall, day-to-day basis. Could he sell more Rangers jerseys or NY Yankee jerseys? Does he sell more tickets as a Yankee or a Ranger? Does he make more money for MLB in a Rangers’ uniform or in a Yankee uniform? The answer should be obvious, especially to an economist.
Would baseball have been better off if Babe Ruth stayed in Boston? Would he have been in a position to save the game from the 1919 Black Sox scandal if he wasn’t playing on the biggest stage in sports? He was a HOFer in Boston, but he transcended the sport in NY, and he did it in a stadium that only a large market could support.
The main reason why you have nothing to substantiate any assertion that the Yankee dominance is bad for the game is because they’ve dominated for so long and in so many different eras.
Yes, the Yankees are popular because they have so many iconographic players which leads them to be in playoffs frequently, which attracts more fans, which and so on and so on. But it’s the way it’s almost always been. There never has been any other balance of power in MLB as you know it. In the late 80’s when they sucked, the Mets filled in with Straw, Doc, Hernandez, drama, etc.
The real irony is that the owners like this way. The Yankees subsidize many teams via revenue sharing and payroll tax. Smaller market teams would rather play (and presumably lose to, according to the payroll theory) the Yankees than beat up on other smaller market teams. The Yanks represent the biggest box office and TV draw they have all season. The Yankees have lead the league in road attendance over the past several seasons. This year they trail Boston slightly but could surpass them over the weekend.
The Yankees have been a primary economic driver of MLB in the 20th century. There is no evidence to support any contention that baseball would be better off if they did not dominate. The only segment that would be better off are those that root for teams that the Yankees beat up on. If you want to hate, then hate. Don’t try to pass it off as logic or science.