Mo Shines, but All-Star Ratings Continue to Falter

Another low-rated Midsummer Classic for Fox

As baseball’s all-time saves leader ambled in from the bullpen in the bottom of the 8th inning, fans at Citi Field—and all over America—stood up and took notice.

New York Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera took the mound to the strains of Metallica’s Enter Sandman, and while the greatest reliever to play the game warmed up, the ratings for the 2013 MLB All-Star Game began to spike.

Per Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, Fox’s deliveries peaked when Mo took the hill, reaching a 7.6 household rating and a 13 share. As has been the case throughout his 19-year-career, the future Hall of Famer was the very picture of efficiency, retiring three batters with 16 cut fastballs before walking off to another standing ovation.

Unfortunately for Fox, Mo’s goose-bumps moment wasn’t enough to compensate for baseball’s ever-shrinking TV presence. Despite a close game (the American League prevailed by a 3-0 margin), the broadcast averaged just a hair under 11 million viewers, making it the second least-watched All-Star Game in history.

The deliveries marked a slight improvement over last year’s game (10.9 million), while the HH rating ticked up one-tenth of a point to a 6.9. This marked the second-lowest rating for the midsummer spectacle, tying the 2011 All-Star Game.

As is the case with just about everything on television 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.

Of the 15 All-Star Games that have aired on Fox since 1997 (the network alternated with NBC in the late ‘90s, taking sole possession of the event in 2001), the 1999 contest was the most-watched and highest-rated. The fourth All-Star Game to be played in Boston’s Fenway Park drew 17.6 million viewers and a 12.0 rating.

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-half of all TV households tuned in for the Bicentennial edition of the Midsummer Classic.

As Adweek reported a week ago, Fox devoted 90 seconds of airtime to a promo for its soon-to-be-launched 24/7 cable sports network, FS1. The average rate for a 30-second spot in last night's game was approximately $600,000.

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