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College Athletics’ Finest Diamonds

MCWS, WCWS Each Exceed 2M Viewers During Finals Series

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July 15, 2022
July 15, 2022
 min read

Grueling fall practices, frigid workouts on February mornings, and countless hours spent honing skills on the diamond culminate with trips to either Omaha or Oklahoma City for eight college baseball and softball teams who prove their superiority in NCAA tournaments transpiring after many university students have already begun summer break. But the set of teams that converge at the USA Softball Hall of Fame Complex for the Women’s College World Series in early June and the nines who gather a week later at Charles Schwab Field Omaha for the Men’s College World Series proudly sacrifice pool time or vacation time to play on the most coveted diamond destinations in collegiate athletics. Furthermore, fans and alumni of participating schools enthusiastically embark on the journey, too. Those who cannot attend games in person watch intently every year as ESPN and ABC combine to broadcast each contest from the Men’s and Women’s College World Series. For a closer look at the passion displayed across fan bases, we used MVP’s broadcast platform to highlight key viewership insights from the events. Our data revealed 29.5 million households tuned in to watch the MCWS’s 15 games, with a large contingent focused on teams that are uniquely familiar with one another.

SEC West Makes MCWS Statement

In the Southeastern Conference, “It just means more,” has become a collective mantra among member institutions. And while such a slogan leaves plenty of room for ambiguity, it may well be apt among the SEC’s college baseball fan bases. In recent years, the SEC has been able to reasonably claim the deepest collection of talented teams in the NCAA – and it also boasts four of the past five national champions, including Ole Miss this year. Not to be outdone by their Magnolia State rivals – Mississippi State won the MCWS in 2021 – Ole Miss went on the road to play regional and super regional series before arriving in Omaha for the best spectacle in college baseball. The Rebels warned other teams to not let them get hot, but once they did, there was no stopping them from earning the title. And their fans were happy to be along for the ride. The 15-game 2022 MCWS collectively drew 29.5 million fans, while the six games including Ole Miss were responsible for 13.89 million of that total. Average viewership during Ole Miss games was 2.31 million – more than any other participating school received. The only other school to exceed 2 million broadcast viewers per game was Auburn, which earned an average of 2.16 million during its three contests. Coincidentally, the matchup between Auburn and Ole Miss on June 18 was the largest TV draw for the tournament, with 3.12 million fans watching. Rounding out the top half of our team rankings by average viewership were rivals Texas and Oklahoma, which earned 1.98 million and 1.95 million, respectively for their games in Omaha.

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Omahogs Command Community’s Attention

In addition to examining overall viewership totals for the Men’s College World Series, our broadcast platform enabled us to break down the event by designated market area to identify which regions displayed the strongest affinity for their local teams. We reviewed figures from each of the local DMAs associated with participating schools. In some cases, like with the University of Texas in Austin, the school’s DMA encompassed its town alone. In others, the DMA represents a geographic region featuring more than one city. That was the case for schools including Stanford, which falls within the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose DMA. By raw viewership totals, the University of Oklahoma’s DMA led the way with 904,774 viewers – an average of 60,318 per game. However, the school with the strongest local following by market share was Arkansas. The Fayetteville community averaged 37,057 viewers across 15 MCWS games, earning a 10.6% DMA share. It was followed by the Waco-Temple-Bryan DMA representing Texas A&M, which drew a 9.7% market share thanks to 39,659 fans per game. Oklahoma City – home to the runner-up Sooners – ranked third at 7.5%, and champion Ole Miss – whose home of Oxford, MS falls within the Memphis DMA – finished 5th with a 5.2% market share in the region.

Sooners Are Well-Represented

This year, Sooner Nation had plenty of reasons for excitement during the NCAA Division I baseball and softball tournaments. Oklahoma’s softball team was the overwhelming favorite to repeat as national champion and win its sixth title in school history – which it ultimately did with a 59-3 record on the season. Oklahoma’s baseball team, however, was a bit of a surprise to outsiders. It was not among the 16 national seeds, so it had to battle through a Gainesville regional and a super regional against Virginia Tech in Blacksburg before even reaching Omaha, where the Sooners won three straight to reach the MCWS Finals before eventually falling to Ole Miss. The best-of-three MCWS and WCWS final series each lasted only two games, and while Oklahoma’s fans experienced both victory and defeat, those watching from Oklahoma City did so in droves. The Oklahoma City DMA accounted for 212,640 of the MCWS Finals’ 4.94 million viewers. But more pointedly, that figure represented a 14.6% market share within the DMA. And the softball team had an even stronger hold on fans in the area. Households tuned in to the WCWS Finals broadcast in Oklahoma City numbered 259,112 – good for 17.2% of the market share and the highest total viewership among all DMAs.

In total, the WCWS drew 4.01 million viewers across two games, topping out during game 1 when 2.22 million households watched Oklahoma beat rival Texas, 16-1. Average viewership for the MCWS was boosted by an audience of 2.5 million on ABC for Game 2 – both WCWS Finals games and Game 1 of the MCWS were on ESPN – but it still only exceeded the WCWS’s average by 23.2%. Notably, each event experienced similar trends throughout their deciding games 2. As a champion was imminent, fans watched in higher numbers. Viewership during the game that culminated with an Ole Miss baseball championship rose 61% from the first half-hour to the last. The boost was even more significant as the Sooners repeated on the softball diamond, with 73% more households watching the finish than tuned in for the opening 30 minutes of the game.

So Closes the Collegiate Sports Calendar

The NCAA operates on a year-round calendar. However, following the conclusion of the Men’s College World Series, there is a brief event break that coincides with academic calendars. But before long, college sports fans will welcome the return of competition in the form of fall sports, with football fever sweeping across campuses throughout the land. As conference realignment, year two of NIL opportunities, and unique events such as the Aer Lingus College Football Classic in Ireland impact the college football landscape, MVP will keep you abreast of various social and broadcast stories impacting schools, their fans, and partners throughout the fall.

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