Another Record-Low TV Turnout for the MLB All-Star Game

Baseball Exhibition Remains a Lucrative Enterprise for Fox

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Bravura performances by baseball's greatest all-around player and a pair of unbelievably dominant fireballers weren't enough to stop the MLB All-Star Game's ongoing ratings skid, as Tuesday night's broadcast delivered record-low ratings for Fox.

According to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, the annual exhibition between the American and National League's brightest stars averaged 10.9 million viewers, tying Fox's 2012 broadcast as the least-watched All-Star Game.

More tellingly, the AL's 6-3 victory delivered a 6.6 household rating, making it the lowest-rated contest since Nielsen began tracking the game back in 1967. (Last year's game, which functioned as a tribute to retiring Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter, drew a 7.0.) Household ratings are particularly relevant where live sports are concerned, as that is the metric against which ratings guarantees to advertisers are made.

For all the hay that will be made about how the All-Star Game ratings herald the Death of Baseball, the ratings slide more or less has been a constant since 2001, when Fox bought the exclusive rights to the broadcast. Over the course of the last 15 years, only four games have enjoyed year-over-year growth; if anything, the dwindling deliveries are a reflection of how TV as a whole is shrinking.

While baseball detractors say the sport's aging fanbase is driving it ever closer to irrelevance, the 2015 All-Star Game actually drew a slightly younger crowd than the year-ago broadcast. The median age of Tuesday night's audience was 53 years, down a tick versus year's 54. The last time the game showed a sequential aging down was in 2009.

The highest-rated All-Star Game on record was the 1976 installment, a 7-1 NL blowout that drew a staggering 27.1 HH rating and a 53 share. As the latter stat demonstrates, more than half of the TVs in use on that day were tuned in to ABC's broadcast.

If the core baseball audience is contracting, its midsummer exhibition still blows away those staged by the other major sports leagues. The 2015 NFL Pro Bowl drew 8.77 million viewers and a 5.1 HH rating, February's NBA All-Star Game scratched out 7.20 million viewers and a 4.3 HH and the NHL's most recent mid-season exhibition managed just a 1.2 HH.

TV ad tracker estimates that Fox's All-Star coverage generated $44.6 million in ad sales revenue, a figure that does not include the cost of Chevrolet's pre- and post-game sponsorship or the T-Mobile presenting sponsorship. Individual 30-second spots fetched around $550,215.

Among the biggest spenders were four official MLB sponsors (Chevrolet, T-Mobile, Pepsi and MasterCard) and a pair of movie studios. Warner Bros. bought in-game spots to hype its upcoming "The Man From UNCLE" and "Vacation", while Marvel countered with ads for "Ant-Man" and "Fantastic Four."

Fox ran only a handful of in-house promos, carving out :30s for its fall comedy "Grandfathered," a pair of new summer series ("Home Free" and "Knock Knock Live") and Wednesday's "UFC Fight Night" card on Fox Sports 1.

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