From MacGyver to the Blacklist: World Series Beer, TV Brand Preferences Then and Now


Whoever wins, a dry spell will be broken: last week the Kansas City Royals and the New York Mets kicked off the 2015 World Series, each seeking to end a multi-decade drought of championship wins.

Back in 1985 and 1986 – when the Royals and Mets last won the championship, respectively – game time TV ads very popular. Earlier this week, AdWeek correspondent Christopher Heine unearthed a few 80’s gems: seven TV commercials that aired during ABC’s broadcast of the 1985 Kansas City Royals. v. St. Louis Cardinals World Series.

Thanks to Heine (and YouTube) we have the opportunity to reminisce over treasures like MacGyver, the civil war TV drama North and South, and retired slogans from domestic beers like Stroh’s, Busch and Bud-brothers, Bud Light and Budweiser.


While tapping our toes to Stroh’s darn-catchy jingle, we at Rhiza couldn’t help but wonder about the beer and TV preferences of today’s baseball fans and how brands could connect with this passionate audience. We dove into Experian’s SimmonsLOCAL dataset to help us find out. Nationally, Budweiser still takes the lead: 40.1% of post-season baseball fans enjoy drinking Bud. Coors claims a distant second, with 21.6% of that market. While Budweiser and Coors capture a lot of attention, it turns out that these fans over-index on Pabst Brewing Company affiliated brands when compared to the national average.

Post-season baseball fans are 89% and 62% more likely to drink Old Style and Old Milwaukee, respectively, and two times more likely to drink Stroh’s. Be it 1985 or 2015, it turns out if you’re watching an elimination game,‘Stroh’s is spoken here!’


World Series Bar Chart

Do nationwide trends present locally? Zooming into the hometown region of the Royals we found that the majority of fans who responded in and around Kansas City, still drink Bud (37.2%) and Coors (19.3%). However, compared to baseball fans nationwide, they are actually 7% less likely to drink Budweiser and 11% less likely to drink Coors. In fact, going by the numbers, Kansas City baseball fans are actually 20% more likely to crack open a Killian’s Irish Red and 18% more likely to drink a Rolling Rock compared to fans nationwide.  Not only are local fans prone to drinking these brands, but so are fans nationwide: 26% are more likely to drink Rolling Rock and 18% are more likely to drink Killian’s compared to the national average. So if either beer brand wanted to make inroads in the baseball community a special promotion and shoutout would cultivate some serious good will. Cheers to ‘Rolling Rock salutes hometown fans, near and far!’

World Series KC Beer

Enough about beer, let’s talk about expert sleuther and paperclip wielder, MacGyver. We wanted to know: Do television viewers still crave a good spy, action-adventure show? Or would they rather watch an entertaining historical drama, like North and South? Pocket your paperclips, but bring on the adventure! World series fans nationwide still enjoy action-adventure themed shows with strong narratives, these viewers are 68% more likely to watch Fox’s Gotham and 34% more likely to watch NBC’s The Blacklist compared to viewers nationwide. Another strong contender for the attention of baseball-loving TV viewers are travel and nature-oriented, reality shows like ABC’s Born to Explore (59%) and National Geographic’s Expedition Wild (72%).

World Series - TV

What if TV and beer joined forces? Is there opportunity for Rolling Rock to reach a new audience by associating with a caped crusader or badge? Or how about vice versa? To opt-in for 30 seconds during the World Series a TV network or beer brand need to know it’s worth it.

For Series fans, a cold Rolling Rock is best served with a side of crime: these viewers are at least 50% more likely to watch any type of Law & Order and 35% more likely to watch The Blacklist compared to the national average. Killian’s baseball fans lean toward action-adventure themed shows as well as unscripted TV: they were 68% more likely to watch The Blacklist and at least 43% more likely to watch shows like American Ninja Warrior, SYTYCD and the Biggest Loser.

While styles may have changed, the opportunity for brands to reach fans hasn’t. Sure, brands have the chance to get in front of as many as 15 million viewers with a World Series ad, but they also have the opportunity to target their content and cross-promotional partnerships to uniquely engage this active audience.