HOLLYWOOD — This time it counted, but that didn’t seem to matter to viewers.
Ratings for Major League Baseball’s annual All-Star Game fell to new lows Tuesday despite attempts by the sport to make the contest more meaningful (winning league now wins home-field advantage for the World Series). Still, it outdrew every game of the NBA Finals in June on ABC and remains the most popular all-star contest for any of the major sports.
According to Nielsen, an average of 13.81 million viewers watched the American League defeat the National League, a decline of 6% from last year and the lowest on record. Because it was a competitive game to the end, though, slightly more people tuned in to at least some of this year’s game (30.7 million) than to last year’s (29.7 million).
Considering the ratings trend for the event, perhaps the “This time it counts” campaign at least helped stem the ratings losses. The Midsummer Classic saw its average aud dip below 20 million for the first time in 1996 and below 15 million for the first time in 2000.
Fox pointed out that there is ample evidence the changes made to this year’s game format achieved the desired effect of increasing ratings as the game progressed.
Last year, the final 32 minutes of the All-Star Game (11:30 p.m.-12:02 a.m. ET) averaged an 8.1 household rating, 21% lower than the first measured segment (9:07-9:30). This year’s game witnessed a 12% increase for the final measured segment (11:00-11:18) compared with the first (8:33-9), 9.1 vs. 8.1. Over the last five years, All-Star Game ratings declined by an average of 23% from the first half-hour to the last.
Jump through hoops
The event was a bigger draw than the NBA Finals matchup between the San Antonio Spurs and New Jersey Nets, which maxed out at 11.57 million viewers for its deciding sixth game last month.
In adults 18-49, the All-Star Game averaged a 4.6 rating/15 share, down 12% from last year. It combined with the pre-game show (2.6/10 in A18-49, 8.61 million viewers overall) to give Fox the night in most key ratings categories.
Opposite baseball Tuesday, CBS reality skein “Big Brother 4” was a solid No. 2 at 8 o’clock (3.3/11 in A18-49, 7.78 million viewers overall) with NBC’s “Dog Eat Dog” not far behind (2.8/10 in 18-49, 7.11m).
NBC ran second in 18-49 from 9 to 11 with “Last Comic Standing” (3.2/10) and “Dateline” (3.6/11).