MLB All-Star Game Jul 11, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; National League catcher Elias DIaz of the Colorado Rockies (35) celebrates with shortstop Orlando Arcia of the Atlanta Braves (11) after hitting a two-run home run against the American League during the eighth inning of the 2023 MLB All Star Game at T-Mobile Park. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The National League’s 3-2 win over the American League in Tuesday’s MLB All-Star Game drew a record-low audience.

Per Sports Media Watch, 7.006 million viewers watched the game

That’s a drop of more than half a million viewers compared to last year’s game, which averaged a then-record low of 7.634 million viewers (which includes the Fox Deportes audience).

Not to keep revisiting the same points, but this is just the most recent All-Star Game to experience a viewership decline. The NBA All-Star Game hit a record low in February. A week earlier, the NHL All-Star Game saw a viewership increase but was still the second least-watched edition since 2015. The revamped Pro Bowl Games also declined from the 2022 mark.

It’s worth noting that fans in several MLB markets couldn’t have watched the game even if they wanted to. Nexstar’s ongoing carriage battle with DirecTV knocked Fox affiliates off the air for those subscribers in San Diego, Denver, Kansas City, St. Louis, and Cleveland. Yes, DirecTV subscribers in Denver couldn’t watch the Rockies’ one All-Star win the game’s MVP award.

The default question when an All-Star Game sees a viewership decline is “How do we fix this?” But given the trend over several sports, airing on different networks, taking place at different times of the year with different formats, there’s no one size fits all fit. All-Star Games aren’t what they were because they’re no longer novel opportunities to see players each year.

If I want to see Ronald Acuna Jr do ridiculous things, tuning into the All-Star Game isn’t my only opportunity. I can watch a Braves game on one of MLB’s litany of media partners or watch highlights on MLB’s website or app. 30 years ago, it was much more difficult to get a look at a player outside of your market than it is today.

Anyway, those differences aren’t going away, so maybe it’s time to frame All-Star Game viewership differently. Instead of pointing to viewership from many moons ago, when an audience of ten million would have been considered unimaginably low, we should remember how poor audiences for non-sports programming are. While the All-Star Game barely cracked seven million viewers on Fox, only one other show on broadcast television (America’s Got Talent on NBC) even cleared four million.

The MLB All-Star Game isn’t holding up to the classic games, but it’s doing fine in today’s media landscape. “Record-low” isn’t an inaccurate description, but it says more about media consumption today than it says about the All-Star Game itself.

[Sports Media Watch]

About Joe Lucia

I hate your favorite team. I also sort of hate most of my favorite teams.