Sadly the U.S. had its heart broken by Belgium in the World Cup. But later this year we've got another big sporting contest coming with "World" in the title. That is, of course, the World Series. Because now that the World Cup is over for the U.S., many Americans will return to watching baseball.
Baseball has always been known as "America's Pastime" (although now second to the NFL in popularity, according to the Harris Poll). But no two American teams in any sport have a more storied rivalry and are bigger sports brands than the Boston Red Sox, who won last year's World Series, and the New York Yankees, who have won it more than any other team. Neither team is leading in the American League standings this year, but what about on YouTube? Which team has more YouTube fans, and which team's fans are more supportive?
Yankees vs Red Sox: User-generated Content on YouTube
At Octoly we tracked all the fan-created videos of both teams to come up with a fair analysis, and frankly it couldn't have been a closer contest. Here's an example fan-created video for each team. On the Yankees side is an older video (2009) by TheFineBros called "LOST Parody #8 – NY Yankees," where (as strange as it sounds) they stage a scene between the cast of "Lost" and famous Yankees, acted out by figurines. It has 408,000 views to date.
Under the Red Sox banner is the YouTuber known as "Batting Stance Guy," who last year re-enacted Boston's triumphant World Series run in "Top 5 Plays 2013 World Series announced by Tiger, OwenW, Rodman, VScully & Sam Elliott." It has 2,600 views.
MLB and Copyright Issues
YouTube presents an interesting playing field for a big brand like MLB, aka Major League Baseball. Unlike the NBA, MLB is relentless about culling its copyrighted videos from YouTube when posted by fans.
According to SBNation, MLB has dedicated more than one full-time employee to seeking out clips for DMCA takedown notices in YouTube's system. This process is executed by MLB Advanced Media, which has been described as being "as strict as it possibly can be with the league's video content." MLB wants fans to watch all their online baseball on MLB.tv for a fee, or, to a lesser extent, on its two YouTube channels. The league has also been live-streaming some games on YouTube to viewers outside the U.S.
Some media companies have chosen to go a different route. Instead of taking down all fan videos from YouTube, many movie studios leave some videos alone and claim and monetize others, believing that most fan-favorited clips and mashups amplify the engagement in and enthusiasm for the game overall. But MLB has taken a different path, as is their right.
All this means that the baseball-related user-generated content on YouTube will have a higher likelihood of being original videos created by fans, rather than highlights or clips of games taken directly from television, as we might expect to see from the NBA.
So we looked into the YouTube footprint of both teams, and discovered that from a fan-created, earned-media perspective, they are almost tied. Please note that our calling attention to the deep analytics in the Octoly system may result in some of these Yankee or Red Sox videos being taken down, so the totals may change by the time you read this.
However, Boston fans were more engaged in their team's fan-created videos. Overall their videos had more views per video (4,600 to 3,800 for New York). Red Sox videos had more overall social actions (likes, comments, shares on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter) at a total of 1.7 million to 1.6 million. They also had more social actions per view than the Yankees, at a rate of 1.4% to 1.3%.
Overall, while the New York Yankees had slightly more overall views of earned media videos, we would rank the Boston Red Sox slightly ahead on YouTube due to their higher engagement rate. On this field, the Red Sox are currently the winning team.