Bush League Ratings for MLB All-Stars

Historically low audience for 8-0 NL blowout hampers Fox deliveries

A 5-0 first-inning lead and seven subsequent scoreless frames put a damper on the 2012 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, and the dearth of drama had Fox viewers making an early move to the turnstiles.

According to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, the National League’s 8-0 cakewalk now stands as the lowest-rated, least-watched All-Star Game on record, drawing 10.9 million viewers and a 6.8 rating/12 share.

The declines were not especially severe compared to last year’s game, which delivered 11 million viewers and a 6.9 rating/12 share, but the dip was enough to qualify for a historic low-water mark.

After the NL’s explosive five-run inning, eventual MVP Melky Cabrera would slam the door on the American League in the top of the fourth, sending a two-run homer into the bullpen to give the visiting team an 8-0 lead. The final five innings passed without another run scored.

On the plus side, Tuesday night’s broadcast did outperform the 2011 edition in the dollar demo, averaging a 3.2 rating with adults 18-to-49, up 3 percent from a 3.1. (Naturally, that’s the most important statistic of all, as it ensures that Fox met its ratings guarantees. The going rate for a 30-second in-game spot was $550,000.)

Like just about everything else on TV that is not affiliated with the NFL, All-Star Game ratings have been in decline for decades. The last time the AL-NL scrimmage topped the 20 million mark was in 1995, when ABC averaged 20.2 million total viewers.

For its part, Fox’s biggest ASG delivery came in 1999, or the second time the network broadcast the event. A 4-1 AL victory served up 17.6 million viewers.

In 1976, ABC laid claim to the all-time most-watched ASG, drawing 36.3 million viewers and a 27.1 rating/53 share. In other words, more than one-quarter of all TV households tuned in for the Bicentennial edition of the Mid-Summer Classic.

Meanwhile, in what’s becoming an increasingly common occurrence during high-impact sporting events, Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium was deluged with free promotional T-shirts.

Before beleaguered AL starter Justin Verlander threw his first pitch, Chevrolet, an official MLB corporate partner, outfitted 43,500 fans in specially branded red, white and blue All-Star Game T-shirts. Each shirt bore the legend “2012 All-Star Game Pregame” and featured the MLB and Chevrolet logos.

When fans donned the T-shirts, the stadium was transformed into an undulating American flag.

The promotional marketing/merchandising agency Bensussen Deutsch & Associates, Inc. (BDA) carried out the production, delivery and in-stadium setup on behalf of Chevrolet.