Numbers Don’t Lie: World Baseball Classic Hits Home Run On TV, Attendance, And Merchandise – Forbes

Marcus Stroman #6 of team United States is awarded with the MVP trophy after their 8-0 win over team Puerto Rico during Game 3 of the Championship Round of the 2017 World Baseball Classic at Dodger Stadium on March 22, 2017, (Credit:  Harry How/Getty Images)

Rob Manfred and Tony Clark were smiling. Just a few short months from getting a new labor deal hammered out under tense circumstances and barely under the wire, the two had good reason to be happy. Sitting before the media just prior to the World Baseball Classic Final, the two gushed about how well received the tournament has been in 2017.

“We’ve had crowds that not only were record number crowds, but had passion that it’s hard to think where you saw something that good the last time,” Manfred, the MLB commissioner said. “I mean, just really amazing.”

“Very rarely do you have an opportunity in the middle of March to appreciate the quality of play that we’ve seen during the course of this tournament,” said Clark, the Executive Director of the MLBPA. “So even as a fan, myself, as I’m sure a number of you are as well, being able to see what we’ve seen, not just in the U.S. venues but in all the international venues as well, the quality of play has been off the charts.”

Business leaders (and let’s not kid ourselves, MLB is big business) are wont to spin matters under their care positively to the point of distraction. But, Manfred and Clark weren’t spouting hyperbole. The 2017 World Baseball Classic was a success of grand slam proportions.

The WBC Was a Huge Hit For MLB Network

“The WBC has been a phenomenal property for the MLB Network,” Manfred said on Wednesday before the Final that saw the U.S. win its first-ever WBC championship over Puerto Rico in stunning fashion 8-0. The numbers back that up.

Overall viewership for the 2017 WBC was up +32% over the last one held in 2013 for the league-owned network. The Final drew 2.3 million viewers to MLB Network making it the second-most viewed game for MLBN ranking only behind Game Two of the 2016 NLDS between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago Cubs. When adding in ESPN Deportes and the Spanish language simulcast on ESPN2, viewership for the Final was 3.1 million.