Thursday, July 15, 2010
All-Star ratings down, so what?
A bit of a surprise:
Major League Baseball's All-Star Game has earned its lowest-ever television rating.
The National League's 3-1 victory Tuesday night on Fox earned a 7.5 fast national rating and 13 share. That's down 16 percent from the 8.9/15 for last season's game, a 4-3 win by the AL.
The previous low was an 8.1/14 in 2005.
Two quick points about this.
Point #1: This doesn't really matter. Yes, it's true that baseball's big events, the All-Star Game and the World Series, don't draw the national audiences they once did. No, it doesn't tell us anything interesting about the general health of the business. Brilliant men have been lamenting the decline -- if not predicting the extinction -- of professional baseball since the 1960s. Hasn't happened yet. In fact, Major League Baseball is awash in revenues and the minor leagues are thriving as well. Baseball has become a local game. A profitable local game that inflames the passions of millions. Get over it.
Point #2: The question isn't What's wrong with the All-Star Game? as everyone seems to want to answer (here, for example. I mean, it's a perfectly reasonable question, and it gives everyone their chance to voice their pet peeves and suggest their pet solutions. But coming up with a list of things wrong with the All-Star Game doesn't explain why the ratings were down so much this year, as opposed to last year or the year before that, etc.
Yeah, the interminable pregame activities are incredibly painful. But were they longer this year than last year? Yes, the rosters are too big; bigger this year than last year. But did the casual fans have any idea? No, the best and most famous players don't spend enough time in the game. But wasn't that true last year, too?
My guess -- and this really is just a guess -- is that if you want to get the most eyeballs you can get, you should 1) get the game started closer to 8pm (Eastern) than 9, 2) do something to make sure everyone's favorite players are in the starting lineup, and 3) keep most of them there for the first five or six innings.
Mostly, though, I would just stop worrying about it. Everyone's going to be fine. I promise.