The World Baseball Classic is now in its fifth installment of the international tournament, and 2023 has been the most successful yet, setting global engagement and attendance marks never before seen for the event.
The 2023 World Baseball Classic drew 1,010,999 fans for the first round of pool play, which is the most in its history, surpassing the 2006, 2009, 2013 and 2017 numbers.
The previous record of 510,056 was set in 2017, marking a 98% increase in 2023 attendance.
The average attendance of 25,275 also set a record for the first round of the tournament, eclipsing 2017’s average of 20,402 by 24%.
Pool B, which was held at the Tokyo Dome in Japan, broke records for the most fans of any round in the history of the tournament (361,976) and the highest average attendance (36,198) of any first or second Round pool in the tournament’s history.
Pool D in Miami at loanDepot park set the record for the most-attended World Baseball Classic round ever in the United States, drawing 295,850 fans, an increase of 81%. Average attendance in Miami registered 29,585, which was an increase of 8% higher than the 2017 average of 27,313.
Mexico’s victory over Team USA on March 12 at Chase Field drew 47,534, which is a World Baseball Classic attendance record for any first-round game.
Both U.S. venues set single-day attendance records in the buildings’ histories during the first round on Saturday, March 11. Over the course of two games, loanDepot park drew 71,289 and Chase Field had a total attendance of 68,147.
Fans watching the game on television were also up significantly across the world.
In Japan, the March 10 broadcast of the Japan vs. Korea game on TBS registered a 44.4 rating, making it the most-watched game in the history of the World Baseball Classic in any country. The game outrated all sports competitions during the Tokyo Olympics. Japan’s four first-round games averaged a 42.3 rating in the country.
In Taiwan, Chinese Taipei’s four first-round games averaged 1.301 million viewers on EBC News, an increase of 151% versus the 2017 tournament. The average viewership of all four Chinese Taipei games was higher than all other sports programming in the market since September 2021.
In Korea, the four games featuring South Korea on SBS/KBS/MBC averaged 1.781 million viewers, marking a 35% increase from the 2017 first-round average. South Korea’s match-up against Japan, which averaged 2.709 million viewers, was the most-watched World Baseball Classic game in Korea since their championship game against Japan in 2009.
In Puerto Rico, WAPA Deportes delivered a 77% increase in comparison to 2017 for their games in the first round. Puerto Rico’s game against the Dominican Republic averaged a 62% share of people watching TV at the time, including 24% of viewers under the age of 35 and 55% were female viewers.
In the Dominican Republic, viewership for the team’s games was 37% higher than in 2017. In Mexico, the first two games on Imagen featuring the country registered an increase of 10% from 2017.
Team USA’s first game versus Great Britain on Fox and Fox Deportes averaged 1.592 million viewers, making it the most-watched first-round game in the U.S. since 2009.
The record viewership also led to increased traction on social media. The World Baseball Classic social media accounts’ total engagements during the first round of the tournament were up a remarkable 564% compared to the first round of the 2017 event.
Los Angeles Angels and Japanese star Shohei Ohtani gained the most followers of any player during the first round with a 1.36 million increase since March, which is an approximate growth of 75%.
World Baseball Classic merchandise sales increase
Fans also wanted to rep their team colors more than ever before, with the 2023 tournament breaking its all-time sales records for World Baseball Classic merchandise across both e-commerce and the four host venues at Chase Field in Phoenix, loanDepot Park in Miami, Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, and Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium in Taiwan.
The official online stores for WBC merchandise are MLBShop.com and the Fanatics network of websites.
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