On average, between the season opener on July 23 and the final World Series game on October 28, nearly a third (27.9%) of Taiwanese residents said they had followed the MLB or watched a game at some point in the previous 12 months. A little over a quarter (25.7%) of South Koreans said so, just edging out the 24.1% of Americans.
YouGov SportsIndex asks thousands of panelists everyday if they watched or followed the MLB – as well as tens of other events and leagues – over the previous 12 months to create its “Current Customer” metric.
Baseball’s roots run deep in both Taiwan and South Korea and both markets have exported dozens of players to the MLB over the last decade, bringing with them the attention of fans from home.
During its 2019 season, the MLB played several out-of-country games and had plans for even more in the 2020 season before COVID-19 scuttled those intentions.
These concerted efforts most recently included special series in the United Kingdom, Japan, and Mexico during the 2019 season. YouGov data shows notable inroads in the Mexican market, despite the pandemic throwing a wrench into sporting schedules. Over the course of the shortened 2020 season, 11.5% of Mexicans reported watching MLB over the previous 12 months, compared to 7.1% during the previous season, marking the highest season-over-season increase of any of the more than 30 markets in which YouGov tracks the MLB brand. In fact, it was the only market that saw a significant increase.
This promising data out of Mexico is the result of the league’s efforts to expand internationally by first looking nearby to its southern neighbor to execute that mission.
Looking at markets in which the league played in 2019, the same metric in the UK has been flat compared to last year (1.3% said they followed or watched the MLB vs. 1.4% last season) and slightly down in Japan (10.2% vs. 12.2%). It’s likely that the pandemic can be blamed for less-than-stellar results in these markets since teams were prevented from taking games to these audiences and building on previous efforts.
Methodology: YouGov tracks thousands of brands every day. Major League Baseball’s Current Customer score is based on responses to the question; “Did you watch or follow (either in person or on TV) any of the following sporting events/leagues during the past year?” 2019 season results are daily average between March 28, 2019 and September 29, 2019 and sample size was between 1,039 and 12,688 depending on consumer market. 2020 season results are daily average between July 23, 2020 and October 28, 2020 and sample size was between 684 and 4,732 depending on consumer market.