The Business Case for a Dodgers-Padres Series in South Korea is Strong. Here’s Why.
In a potential boost for international baseball, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres, renowned for their rivalry, are expected to inaugurate the 2024 regular season in South Korea, marking a first for Major League Baseball playing any of its games in the country. Though nothing is confirmed just yet, the Dodgers-Padres series, slated for late March, is eyeing Seoul’s Gocheok Sky Dome, a venue with a history of hosting international baseball events.
The selection of the Dodgers and Padres is notable due to their ties to Korean baseball, with the Padres’ Ha-Seong Kim and the Dodgers’ Chan Ho Park both having significant connections to the sport in Korea. This event follows their international series in Australia in 2014 and Mexico in 2018, further underscoring the Dodgers’ and Padres’ commitment to globalizing baseball.
Beyond the players’ connections to South Korea, the historic rivalry, and the existing legacy of international outings for the two teams, what is the strategic business case for bringing a Dodgers-Padres series to South Korea? Jon Stainer, Managing Director of the Americas for Nielsen Sports, breaks down the data behind this move, why it’s getting an optimistic outlook from the MLB, and why advertisers and sponsors should be thirsting for the opportunity to present in front of a one-of-a-king passionate audience.
“Potentially exciting news that the 2024 MLB season will kick off in South Korea with a matchup of the Dodgers and Padres. Moving the series around the world certainly makes things interesting from a number of different angles. So how deep does the love of baseball run in South Korea and how does this compare to other professional sports?
Let’s take a look at the data. According to our global research platform Nielsen Fan Insights, there are 10.5 million fans of Major League Baseball in South Korea. This amounts to nearly one-third of the adult population having an interest in the MLB. As a frame of reference, the 10.5 million MLB fans outpace the country’s 6 million NBA fans and its 3.2 million NFL fans. Drilling down into MLB club fandom, our data reveals that, among South Koreans who follow the MLB, the Dodgers are the favorite team with 3.3 million fans. The next most popular clubs are the Yankees with 2.6 million fans, the Blue Jays with 1 million fans and the Padres with 980,000 fans.
So this particular series matching up the number one and number four most popular teams in the country and division rivals at home appears to be a great choice. By scheduling a Dodgers-Padres series the league not only feeds South Korea’s love for the game, it extends its own reach and it highlights two of its most popular teams. Given this, the event is sure to generate sizable in-person attendance, TV viewership and social buzz amongst baseball fans in South Korea and the US.
So will this series be a commercial home run? This far out is difficult to say for certain, but one thing is clear: The Dodgers-Padres matchup provides new opportunities for sponsors and advertisers to drive awareness for their brands among a passionate audience. The South Korean food company bibigo is already heavily involved with another South Californian team, the LA Lakers. It’ll be interesting to see if they get in on the sponsorship action.”
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