While many of the participants in this year’s two League Championship Series are a surprise to many, there are many advertisers who are thrilled with at least one of this year’s matchups.
The faceoff of the New York Mets and the Chicago Cubs represents an advertiser’s dream. They come from huge media markets (New York is the biggest Designated Market Area, or DMA; Chicago is third), both teams haven’t been in the playoffs for a number of years (and have little playoff success overall in their entire histories), and at least for the Cubs the team’s following extends far beyond the city itself as the Cubs have a huge nationwide following (the Yankees have a big nationwide fan base; not quite as much for the Mets).
The American League Championship, however, was likely viewed as a disappointment by advertisers, as the alternatives would have likely been preferred (the Astros and Rangers play in the 6th and 9th highest populated DMAs, respectively). Meanwhile, Kansas City is just the 34th highest market in the country. Toronto, if in the United States, would be about the fourth or fifth highest market in the country, but advertisers would surely prefer a smaller market that was located in the U.S.
When using 2010 Census population figures, the 2015 National League Championship Series has a highest cumulative population from the teams’ DMAs in the last ten years, and the American League Championship Series has the third lowest cumulative population from the teams’ DMAs from the last ten years:
Combined Population of Teams’ Designated Market Areas from LCS Teams, 2006-2015
Five Highest Ranked LCS by Combined DMA Size, 2006-2015
- 2009 ALCS, New York Yankees vs. Los Angeles Angels
While most advertisers would pick the Dodgers over the Angels if one team from the Los Angeles area was playing, the Angels were surely still a worthy consolation prize, playing a Yankees team that hadn’t advanced to the League Championship Series the previous four seasons (which seemed like an eternity given the team’s dominance in the years prior).
- 2015 NLCS, New York Mets vs. Chicago Cubs
Ticket prices are soaring for this year’s series, and nothing draws in an audience like rooting for one of two long-suffering teams. Ratings will surely be high in both the local markets and across the country for this most unexpected matchup.
- 2010 ALCS, New York Yankees vs. Texas Rangers
Sensing a trend? When a New York team makes the LCS, advertisers are happy. The Rangers organization had never advanced beyond the Division Series, so local interest in the team’s success was very high, even if there weren’t a whole lot of fans tuning in nationwide specifically to watch the Rangers.
- 2012 ALCS, New York Yankees vs. Detroit Tigers
The series itself was a bit of a dud after the first game (which featured Raul Ibanez’s late inning heroics), but advertisers were likely overall pleased to see two franchises with storied histories (even if one was much more “storied” than the other).
- 2008 and 2009 NLCS, Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Philadelphia Phillies
The 2008 NLCS featured the Dodgers in the series for the first time in 20 years, and the Phillies in the series for the first time in 15 years (and the Phillies would go on to win the World Series for the first time in 15 years and just the second time in franchise history). Sometimes a rematch can be even more exciting than the original, but both series were won by the Phillies by a 4-1 margin.
Five Lowest Ranked LCS by Combined DMA Size, 2006-2015
- 2014 ALCS, Kansas City Royals vs. Baltimore Orioles
While the Cinderella Royals made for a good story, Kansas City is not exactly a major media market (neither is Baltimore). That being said, what Kansas City lacks in bodies they likely made up for (somewhat) in diehard fans, thrilled for their team’s first playoff appearance in nearly 30 years.
- 2007 NLCS, Colorado Rockies vs. Arizona Diamondbacks
Nearly all expansion teams from the last 40-50 years will never have much of a nationwide following, and a series featuring two of the league’s four newest teams (Rockies began play in 1993; the Diamondbacks in 1998) was likely considered a snoozer by the rest of the country, despite the Rockies late 2007 season heroics, in which they won 14 of their last 15 regular season games, including a tie-breaking 163rd game against the San Diego Padres.
- 2011 NLCS, St. Louis Cardinals vs. Milwaukee Brewers
The Cardinals have a diehard following (and something of a nationwide following), so their relatively small market size is somewhat offset by a devoted fan base. The Brewers, on the other hand, don’t really have any fans outside of Milwaukee, and that was before Ryan Braun’s (first) steroids scandal became big news a few months later.
- 2007 ALCS, Boston Red Sox vs. Cleveland Indians
The Red Sox and their devoted following likely helped drive ratings, but it’s unlikely that a whole lot of people outside of Cleveland were watching specifically for the Indians. At the same time, while the following year’s ALCS between Boston and Tampa Bay technically had a slightly higher overall local population (Cleveland ranks 20th; Tampa Bay ranks 15th), given Tampa Bay’s unimpressive local support advertisers would have likely slightly preferred Cleveland to Tampa Bay.
- 2012 and 2014 NLCS, San Francisco Giants vs. St. Louis Cardinals
Even with the Giants and their 5th highest media market in the country, whenever the Cardinals are involved the overall local market will not be huge, with St. Louis ranking just 22nd in the country.