Tuesday night's Major League Baseball All-Star game drew only a 7.5 rating for Fox, the lowest number ever for the midseason classic. As reported by the Associated Press, the previous low was an 8.1 rating in 2005. Last night's 7.5 rating represents a 16% drop from last year's rating of 8.9. ESPN's much-maligned "The Decision" drew a 9.9 rating last week.
Some have already jumped to blame the ratings drop on the late start to the game, which saw the first pitch thrown at 8:50 in the east, despite a broadcast opening at 8:00. However, this kind of pre-game festivity that isn't officially listed as a pre-game has been a feature of nearly every major sports broadcast this decade, so it's difficult to see a bright line difference here. The time of the first pitch in 2009? 8:50. But what about 2008? 8:47.
Other theories can be offered. Heading into this year's game much of the media narrative painted 2010 as "The year of the Pitcher", a meme promulgated multiple times early in the broadcast by the Fox team. Perhaps a segment of viewers had little interest in watching a pitcher's duel featuring a cavalcade of relievers. Perhaps Charlie Manuel's decision to leave Stephen Strasburg off the National League roster (I'm sure America loved seeing Matt Capps pitch) robbed the game of some needed buzz. Really, there's no way to be know exactly what caused the ratings drop, which could simply be random.
If the ratings drop indicates anything, however, it might be that MLB's long-running gimmick to have the All-Star game determine home-field advantage has failed to captivate the casual fans. Since 2003 MLB has used this system, and it makes less and less sense with each passing year.