Thrilling First Round Baseball Makes For World Class Success
Television Ratings, Attendance and Merchandise Sales Highlight First Round of 2009 World Baseball Classic
The first round of the 2009 World Baseball Classic experienced on and off the field success as competitive play and thrilling upsets result in increased television ratings, sell-out games and record-breaking merchandise sales. Proceeds generated from the off-field success of the World Baseball Classic will help further the tournament's goal of developing the game of baseball around the world.
Domestic television ratings for the 2009 World Baseball Classic Round One games broadcast on ESPN are averaging a 1.3 rating, up over 40% from 2006. The four games are averaging 1,745,000 viewers, up almost 90% compared to 2006 Round One games. The United States vs. Venezuela game on March 8 became the most-viewed World Baseball Classic ESPN telecast ever by posting a 2.0 rating, with 2,645,000 viewers. The opening game in Toronto between the United States and Canada registered a 1.4 rating on ESPN. Five 2009 World Baseball Classic Round One games are the highest-rated non-soccer events ever broadcast on ESPN Deportes, including the March 10 contest between Cuba and Australia. That game posted a 3.3 rating, the station's highest-rated Round One game.
International television ratings, particularly in Japan, have reinforced baseball's global appeal. The opening game of the 2009 World Baseball Classic featured China taking on defending World Baseball Champion Japan and registered a 28.2, with more than 33 million viewers. This game was the highest-rated sporting event of 2009, but was surpassed two days later on March 7 when the first match-up between Japan and Korea earned a rating of 37.8 in Japan - with more than 45 million viewers tuning in nationwide. This is the highest rated sporting event of any kind in Japan, surpassing even the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, since the 2006 World Baseball Classic Final between Japan and Cuba (43.4).
Round One attendance in 2009 has surpassed the attendance numbers from Round One of the 2006 World Baseball Classic by approximately 38% - more than 450,000 fans attended Round One games in 2009, compared with just over 326,000 fans for the inaugural World Baseball Classic. The 2009 World Baseball Classic started strong when 43,428 fans flocked to the Tokyo Dome to watch the opening match-up of the tournament between China and defending Tournament Champion Japan. On March 7, the first match-up between Japan and Korea was played in front of a sell-out crowd of 45,640. When Japan and Korea met again in the Pool A championship, 42,879 passionate fans witnessed Korea clinch the higher seed for Round Two. The Rogers Centre in Toronto held a crowd of 42,314 on March 7 for the United States thrilling victory over Canada. Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan drew a sell-out crowd of 19,483 on March 9 for the game between Puerto Rico and the Netherlands, and duplicated the feat when 19,501 fans attended the classic rematch between the teams in the Pool D championship game on March 11.
Toronto's Rogers Centre set a single-day merchandise sales record for a non-World Series baseball event on March 7, during the opening day of Pool C which featured the United States taking on Canada and Italy vs. Venezuela.
The competition in Round One is a clear indication that the level of baseball played around the world continues to improve, as witnessed by the Netherland's advance to Round Two with its two-game upset over traditional baseball powerhouse Dominican Republic. Australia's mercy-rule victory over Mexico and China's defeat of Chinese Taipei allowed each country to claim its first World Baseball Classic victory, while Italy stunned fans in Toronto when they eliminated Canada from the tournament.
In support of the tournament's primary mission to develop the game of baseball around the globe, World Baseball Classic, Inc. will distribute more than $15 million in proceeds from the 2009 World Baseball Classic to the participating federations and the International Baseball Federation (IBAF). The prize pool for the participating teams will be $14 million, which is nearly double the $7.8 million that was awarded after the inaugural event. In addition, the IBAF, the worldwide governing body for the sport of baseball, will receive over $1 million to invest in game development globally.
About World Baseball Classic, Inc.
World Baseball Classic, Inc. is a company created at the direction of Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) to operate the World Baseball Classic tournament. The tournament, which is sanctioned by the International Baseball Federation (IBAF), is supported by MLB, the MLBPA, Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), their respective players associations and other leagues and players from around the world.
About the World Baseball Classic
The World Baseball Classic is the premier international baseball tournament, sanctioned by the International Baseball Federation, and features the best players in the world competing for their home countries and territories. In March 2006, 486 players (235 of them from MLB organizations) representing 16 teams from across the globe competed in the inaugural event. More than 740,000 fans from 48 states and 15 countries attended games (16 of which sold out) and millions more watched on TV as Team Japan was crowned the first-ever World Baseball Classic Champion. The inaugural tournament was broadcast by 48 media outlets in 10 languages to 205 countries and territories around the world. Media members representing 25 different nations attended the 39 games in seven host venues across three countries/territories. The upcoming World Baseball Classic will be played from March 5 - 23 and will again feature 16 of the greatest baseball-playing nations in the world. The tournament will be held every four years thereafter, with plans in place to expand the participant field beginning in 2013.