The final of the 2023 Word Baseball Classic (WBC) national teams competition attracted a record audience in the US as the host nation lost to Japan earlier this week.
Japan’s 3-2 win over the US in Miami on Tuesday (March 21) drew a combined 5.2 million viewers across national network Fox’s linear and streaming platforms, which Major League Baseball (MLB) said is a record for a WBC game.
The main broadcast of the championship game on the FS1 channel was watched by an average of 4.5 million viewers (4.97 million with Fox Deportes included). Viewership on FS1 and Fox Deportes peaked at 6.5 million
The previous high for the tournament in the US was 3.05 million for the 2017 US-Puerto Rico final on MLB Network, ESPN, and ESPN Deportes.
This year’s competition represented a 69% increase from the last edition, while it also delivered three of the four most-watched games in tournament history.
Including the postseason, Japan’s win over the US attracted a larger audience for all but one MLB game on FS1 last year.
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The presence of two of MLB’s biggest stars – Japan’s Shohei Ohtani and American Mike Trout – contributed to the huge viewership.
Ohtani struck out Los Angeles Angels teammate Trout to seal Japan's third win in five editions of the global event. He was also named the most valuable player of the tournament.
Viewership was also up significantly in several other global markets such as Taiwan (151%), Mexico (103%), Canada (44%), South Korea (36%), and Puerto Rico (11%).
Figures from Japan are yet to be released but the WBC had extensive coverage in the country with free-to-air broadcasters TV Asahi and Tokyo Broadcasting System (TSB), as well as Prime Video Japan (PVJ), the regional subsidiary of the Amazon streaming platform, and prominent pay-television sports broadcaster J Sports holding rights.
This year’s WBC was postponed from 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The next edition of the WBC will be held in 2026, with the host country yet to be named.
Image: Eric Espada/Getty Images