Yankee fans are no doubt excited to find themselves back in the World Series after a six-year drought. Most fans would be thrilled to have nine post-season appearances and a World Series title over the past decade, but fans of the Bronx Bombers are a spoiled bunch.
The Yankees are not just a national, but a global brand, far exceeding any other US baseball team. However, New York regional World Series matchups are not big attractions. In fact, when the Mets and Yankees squared off in 2000, it was then the lowest-rated championship contest in the history of baseball.
Ratings for last year’s Philly-Tampa Bay World Series were the worst since that Subway Series. The highest-rated game drew only 15 million viewers, down from 20 million the year before, when the Red Sox and Rockies squared off. Ratings tend to be better when the teams are from different regions. (Retirees and vacationers bind Tampa closely to the Northeast.)
Despite the team’s downtrend since the late 90s, when they won three titles between 1996 and 1999, the Yankees brand is still strong. A Harris Interactive poll [pdf] conducted this summer ranked the Yankees as the number one favorite team for the seventh year in a row, followed by the Red Sox and Braves.
The presence of the returning champion Phillies could throw a wrench in the regional World Series trend. Fans may flock to see whether the most successful franchise in sports can topple the Phillies, trying to win back-to-back titles. (And of course, the quality of the games themselves can also be a factor.)
There is one demographic that neither team is likely to draw this October: Mets fans, who are doing their best to ignore what some Amazin’s fans are calling “Baseball Armageddon.”