World Baseball Classic: More Viewers Than Boston Celtics Vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

Charlie JonesContributor IMarch 19, 2009

The 39-game tournament that includes 16 teams expanded into other countries this year. Games were played in Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Japan, and the expansion has helped even in this time of recession.

“From a ratings standpoint, from an attendance standpoint, and more importantly from an acceptance really is doing everything we hoped it would do,” MLB President Bob DuPuy said.

With U.S. sports leagues hurt by the recession, the World Baseball Classic is a sign that baseball can still attract eyeballs. In fact, the U.S. and Venezuela game outdrew an NBA game between the Celtics and Cavaliers...both premier teams with great records and superstars that will possibly go at it in this year's playoffs.

The Japan vs. Korea game ratings were higher than the Beijing Olympics or any other sports event since the 2006 World Baseball Classic finals, says DuPuy.

In addition to ratings, the MLB more than doubled the number of sponsors for the World Baseball Classic from a mere 26 in 2006 to 56 this time around.

DuPuy also pointed to record single-day merchandise sales for a non-World Series event at Toronto’s Rogers Center for that game. Sales in Mexico and Japan also were strong.

Reuters contributed to this story.