Despite a cadre of young superstars and a couple of slick in-game innovations, the 2017 All-Star Game only received a miniscule ratings increase over last year’s all-time low.
For the second time since record-keeping began on total viewership numbers for the Midsummer Classic, it appears the game again garnered less than ten million viewers. This year’s contest, a sharply-played 2-1 American League victory in ten innings, drew a 6.5/11 overnight rating, according to Nielsen. That’s up just a touch from last year’s 6.4/11. In the coveted 18-49 demographic, the game drew a 2.2 rating. It was beat out in the 8-10 p.m. hours by NBC’s America’s Got Talent, which earned a 2.4/10 and 12.3 million viewers.
The Fox game telecast averaged 9.28 million viewers. That’s up about seven percent from last year’s record low 8.71 million. The network is also touting a seven percent jump in combined viewers across Fox, Fox Deportes and the Fox Sports Go app. Across all three of those platforms, the game rose to 9.4 million viewers.
The numbers aren’t a precipitous drop, like last year’s All-Star Game, which fell 20 percent in viewers and 29 percent in the 18-49 demo from the prior year. But in some ways it could be just as disheartening for baseball, since this year’s game featured newcomer breakout stars in big markets like Yankees slugger Aaron Judge and Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger.
Fox also played around with a number of new segments, like during-the-game interviews with the Nationals’ Bryce Harper and the Astros’ George Springer. The network also had analyst Alex Rodriguez go out into the field in between innings to interview infielders.
Ratings have been dropping for decades for the Midsummer Classic, to the point where they are a fraction of the 25-30 million who tuned in from the early 1970s to the early 90s. Of course, the game as a television product has changed too, becoming more regionalized and less reliant on national TV dollars. The allure of watching the two leagues take on each other once a year has also lost its luster, since interleague play was introduced in the late 90s.
Kansas City, which boasted three All-Stars, was the top local market for a third straight year, according to Fox. The city earned a 16.6/28 rating for the game, one of three cities to top a 20-share along with St. Louis and Cleveland. Minneapolis and New York rounded out the top five local markets. Houston, which went into the break as the American League’s top team by ten games and had five All-Stars, had the greatest year-to-year growth. The market earned a 8.9 local rating, an increase of 62 percent from 2016.