In a must-read column for the National Sports Journalism Center website at Indiana University, Ed Sherman delves into the subject that neither MLB or Fox Sports wants to talk about – and that is four straight years of significant declines in viewership ratings for the All-Star Game.
Here is a small part taken from the full article which you can read here.
Now let’s not get into a prolonged discussion on how the TV landscape has changed since the 80s. In 1982, 44 percent of U.S. televisions in use were tuned into the All-Star game on that night. The all-time high was a 53 share in 1976.
OK, those days are long gone. However, this is about recent history. Last year’s game in Kansas City did a 6.8 rating with a 12 share. The game averaged nearly 11 million viewers.
The TV numbers were the worst in All-Star Game history. They are off sharply since the ’08 game in Yankee Stadium, which did a 9.3 rating, 16 share, and an average of 14.5 million viewers.
2009: 8.9 rating, 15 share, 14,610,000 viewers.
2010: 7.5, 13, 12,100,000
2011: 6.9, 12, 11,000,000
2012: 6.8, 12, 10,900,000
So what’s going on? Why the major tune-out for the Mid-Summer Classic?
During a conference call with reporters last week, Eric Shanks, Fox Sports’ co-president, tried to put on a positive spin despite the recent declining numbers.
Problem? What problem?
“The Mid-Summer Classic is still a jewel event,” Shanks said. “At Fox Sports, we look at it as a part of our total baseball business. We still have a healthy local baseball business and very strong demand for our national business and strong demand for the All-Star Game. When you put it in context among all of the entertainment choices out there, this is the top end of the summer. Not just the All-Star Game, but baseball itself. The national game of the week on Saturday nights is winning the night against all networks. I feel that it’s very healthy.”
Healthy, though, is a relative term. While Fox and MLB might not admit it publicly, a 25-30 percent drop in ratings for the All-Star Game has to be cause for concern.
Not for nothing, but a 25-30 percent drop in viewership with skyrocketing expenses to go with it is certainly a cause for concern. But then again there are things MLB can do to try and recoup some of that lost revenue – the best of those being the age-old, time-tested strategy of bilking the fans.
Today, one MMO reader sent me the following:
As far as random All-Star musings, a friend of mine was given tickets for yesterday’s Futures Game. He told me that the Mets categorized this as a “special event” and raised the parking fee from $20 to $35.
What additional operating expenses were there and how could those in turn cause a 75 percent increase in parking fees?
I wonder if the price of food also went up for such a “special event” as well.
Thanks for sending that in, Joey…
There are always more ways to generate additional revenue and squeezing every last dollar out of a sports fan – and nobody does it better than Major League Baseball.