TV ratings plummet

Posted: Thursday, July 11, 2002

NEW YORK (AP) -- There wasn't a winner in the All-Star game but there was a loser: the sport's television rating.

Tuesday night's controversial 7-7, 11-inning tie in Milwaukee set a record for baseball's lowest-rated All-Star game in prime time, getting a 9.5 rating and 17 share, Nielsen Media Research said Wednesday.

The rating was down 14 percent from the 11.0 for the American League's 4-1 victory last year in Seattle. The previous prime-time low was a 10.1 for the AL's 6-3 win two years ago in Atlanta, and the only lower rating was an 8.6 for the 1953 game in Cincinnati, which was played in the afternoon.

Like network ratings in general, the All-Star game rating has steadily declined. From a peak of 28.5 in 1970, it dropped below 20 for the first time in 1987. The game drew a 15.7 rating in 1994, then dropped to 13.9 the following year after a strike wiped out the World Series for the first time in 90 years.

Tuesday night's game was seen by an average of 10,023,000 households, less than half the 20.38 million that tuned in 20 years earlier.

Fox spokesman Lou D'Ermilio said factors for the decrease from 2001 included the lengthy pregame show orchestrated by baseball and a sponsor, the increase caused last year by Cal Ripken's final All-Star appearance and the big drop in the rating of the host city: a 24.6 in Milwaukee this year vs. a 38.1 in Seattle last year.

The rating is the percentage of television households in the United States watching a broadcast, and each point represents 1,055,000 homes. The share is the percentage watching a program among those households with televisions on at the time.

Because of a lengthy pregame show, the game started at 9:06 p.m. EDT. Commissioner Bud Selig stopped it at 12:35 a.m., when the teams ran out of pitchers. The rating didn't include viewership past 12:02 a.m., when the last commercial aired.

Some in the sellout crowd of 41,871 threw bottles on the field, booed and chanted ''Let them play!'' and ''Bud must go!''

Fox estimated the game was watched by 30 million viewers, a decrease of 2 million from last year. Still, Fox won the prime-time ratings with a 9.3, topping CBS (5.3), NBC (5.1) and ABC (4.2).

Still, baseball got a higher rating than this year's NBA All-Star game on NBC (8.2), the Pro Bowl on ABC (4.3) and the NHL All-Star game on ABC (1.8).

ESPN's telecast of the Home Run Derby on Monday night drew a 6.11 rating -- the second-highest rated show this year on the network. The competition, won by the New York Yankees' Jason Giambi, was up 18 percent from last year's event, which drew a 5.19.

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