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MLB’s New Playoff Format Elevates Social Interest

Postseason Teams Collectively Earn 44.9M Engagements Through League Championship Series

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Social Media
October 27, 2022
October 28, 2022
 min read

Pennant winners always navigate different journeys to reach the World Series, but few contrasts in recent memory are as stark as those between the Houston Astros and Philadelphia Phillies. Houston comfortably coasted into the 2022 postseason with the American League’s No. 1 seed after winning 106 games and their fifth AL West title since 2017, having topped the division during each 162-game season in that stretch. The Phillies, on the other hand, finished third in the National League East and did not earn their postseason berth until their final regular season series, ultimately edging out the Milwaukee Brewers by a single game for the last Wild Card spot. But since the playoffs began, both teams have been on a tear, with neither having faced elimination and the Astros still undefeated in postseason play. Ahead of their World Series matchup beginning on Friday, we used MVP’s platform to examine their social performances during the playoffs as well as those of every other franchise comprising the 2022 MLB postseason field. We explored overall metrics as well as round-by-round and platform comparisons from Games 1 of the Wild Card Round on October 7 through the LCS clinchers on October 23. In that span of roughly two weeks, the 12 clubs that entered the playoffs with championship aspirations collectively earned 44.9 million social media engagements while competing. Unsurprisingly, the two teams still standing led the way.

Philadelphia Demonstrates Brotherly Love

Red October has been in full force throughout the City of Brotherly Love since the Phillies’ Game 1 comeback against the St. Louis Cardinals on the postseason’s opening day. Philadelphia swept a Wild Card series in the Show Me State before besting division rival Atlanta in a four-game NLDS set and dispatching the San Diego Padres in five games to win the NL pennant. The success has created a social stir on the team’s Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter channels, where 698 posts through the NLCS earned 9.53 million total engagements. Houston’s social metrics during Wild Card weekend were not included in our analysis as the club had a bye to the ALDS, but the Astros still managed to accumulate 9.09 million engagements since the beginning of the divisional round. The AL champions parlayed that reach into the highest total post value among playoff participants at $5.09M. While the Phillies generated $4.37M in that category, it was only good for third place as the AL runner-up New York Yankees amassed $4.58M on their channels. The Padres finished fourth in total engagements and post value, with 6.12 million and $2.59M, respectively. Notably, although the Los Angeles Dodgers were upset in the NLDS by San Diego, the Boys in Blue averaged the most engagements through the League Championship Series. Their 26,269 engagements per post were at least 67% higher than any other team achieved, with the Braves’ 15,688 finishing in second place. Consequently, the Dodgers’ average post value of $13,498 also led the postseason field.

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Series Winners Drive Social Engagement

Winning games often has a galvanizing effect on a club’s fan base, and that has been evident through three rounds of the 2022 MLB postseason. During each stage of the playoffs leading up to the World Series, the winning teams collectively outperformed their fallen counterparts on social media. The only individual series for which this was not the case was the Wild Card matchup between the San Diego Padres and New York Mets, as New York’s social accounts earned 12.9% more engagements than the Padres’ channels. Aside from that anomaly, every series winner outperformed not only its direct counterpart but all other series losers in a given round. Notably, the American League’s gap between winners and losers was wider than the National League’s difference. On Wild Card weekend, the AL’s winning teams received 2.99x more engagements than the losing nines, compared to a 48% boost enjoyed by the NL’s victors. For the divisional round, those same gaps were 2.7x and 50%, respectively.

In the opening round, the Phillies and Seattle Mariners led the way with 1.72 million and 1.6 million engagements, respectively, and they were the only two competing clubs to exceed 1 million engagements from October 7-9. The Phillies once again led National League teams in the divisional round with 3.24M engagements, but they were eclipsed in the overall standings by the Astros as Houston generated 3.63 million en route to a sweep of Seattle. The Yankees finished third in engagements during the LDS, a mere 1,654 behind Philadelphia. In the penultimate playoff round, each series winner more than doubled its counterpart’s engagements. Houston’s 5.27 million engagements were 2.13x as many as New York earned, while Philadelphia’s total of 4.57 million surpassed San Diego’s by 2.28x.

Instagram Proves to Be a Power Hitter

Twitter is a reliable singles hitter for MLB teams. Social content on the platform reaches fan bases and delivers necessary updates, which is why 54% of the posts through three playoff rounds have been shared on the app. However, overwhelmingly, Instagram drives the most engagements. In addition to being the platform responsible for the most engagements on a single post — celebratory content from the Yankees after their ALDS win over Cleveland drew 318,168 engagements — Instagram was also home to the post with the highest engagement rate, as the Phillies achieved a 22.18% figure after securing their World Series berth. Overall, engagements on Instagram numbered 25.81 million — 2.62x more than Facebook’s figure and 2.79x higher than Twitter’s total. Of the 12 postseason participants, 11 earned more engagements on Instagram than either other platform and eight received at least half of their total engagements from content shared to IG, led by the Dodgers and Padres at 75.7% and 72.7%, respectively. Notably, the Yankees had the lowest percentage of Instagram engagements relative to their total as well as the evenest overall distribution, receiving 35.3% of their engagements on Facebook, 35% on IG, and 29.7% on Twitter.

Houston, Philadelphia Ready for Fall Classic

Houston has grown accustomed to the spotlight of October baseball, with this year marking the Astros’ fourth World Series appearance in the past six seasons. Contrarily, Philadelphia has not competed on the postseason stage in more than a decade. But each team and fan base is eager to reach the pinnacle and then celebrate with champagne showers, a parade through town, and the Commissioner’s Trophy. As the Fall Classic progresses, we will use MVP’s omnichannel media measurement capabilities to monitor broadcast and social storylines as Major League Baseball crowns its 2022 champion.

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