MediaWeek reports Fox’s telecast of the 2009 Major League Baseball All-Star Game delivered an average audience of 14.6 million viewers, making it the most-watched midsummer classic since 2002.
Tuesday night’s contest now stands as the sixteenth most-watched sporting event of 2009 since Super Bowl XLIII, which drew a record 98.7 million viewers to NBC on Feb. 1. Also putting up big numbers this year were: the NCAA National Championship Game (17.6 million); the Kentucky Derby (16.3 million); Game 4 of the NBA Finals and the Daytona 500 (both drew 16 million).
(Counting the 10 NFL Playoffs that aired in January on Fox, CBS and NBC, the All-Star Game ranks 16th among all sports telecasts in 2009. For instance, the Jan. 18 Ravens-Steelers AFC Championship on CBS averaged 40.6 million viewers, while Fox’s presentation of the Eagles-Cardinals NFC Championship drew 38.4 million viewers. All told, the NFL Playoffs drew an average audience of 29.9 million viewers.)
The game, which cruised along at a brisk 2 hours and 31 minutes, saw the American League defeat the National League 4-3, to extend their unbeaten streak to 13. The victory once again gives the AL home-field advantage in the World Series, a wrinkle that was introduced by MLB commissioner Bud Seling back in 2003, following an unpopular decision to call the prior year’s All-Star Game after 11 innings.
The pre-game show, which culminated in President Obama’s ceremonial first pitch, drew 11.2 million viewers, making it the most watched All-Star Game place-setter in seven years. (While Fox’ camera angle was a little dicey, the southpaw POTUS’ battery mate, Cardinals star Albert Pujols, later refuted talk that Obama had bounced the ball over the plate. “It was in the air the whole way,” Pujols said during a post-game press conference. “I scooted up a little bit, but I think I was going to catch it no matter what. It was a great pitch.”)
The President saw additional screen time when he joined Fox analysts Joe Buck and Tim McCarver in the booth at the top of the second inning. When asked why he elected to wear a Chicago White Sox warm-up jacket––per tradition, the luminary who tosses out the first pitch usually wears the host team’s colors––Pres. Obama said he was repping his local nine. “Everybody knows I’m a White Sox fan, and my wife thinks I look cute in this jacket,” he said. “So, for those two reasons, why not.”
Host city St. Louis led all local markets with an astounding 37.0/56, the highest host city rating since Seattle scored a 38.1 in 2001. St. Louis was followed by Milwaukee (17.9/29), Philadelphia (16.4/26), Detroit (15.7/25), Boston (15.5/27), Minneapolis (14.2/23) and Providence, RI (13.2/21). Chicago and Kansas City each registered a 12.8/21 and New York, last year’s host city, rounded out the top 10 with a 12.3/2.