SBD/July 13, 2011/Media

MLB All-Star Game Earns Lowest Overnight Ever, But Fox Wins Primetime Among All Nets

Fox earned a 7.9 overnight Nielsen rating for last night's MLB All-Star Game from 8:30-11:30pm ET, marking the event's lowest overnight rating ever. The telecast did lead Fox to its best primetime rating since the "American Idol" finale in May and also gave Fox a win among all nets in primetime last night. The 7.9 overnight is down 13.2% from a 9.1 rating last year and down 24% from the game in '09. St. Louis topped all markets with a 17.8 local rating, marking the fourth straight year the market has been the highest-rated city for the game. Philadelphia ranked second last night with a 14.7 local rating (THE DAILY).

ALL-STAR GAME OVERNIGHT
RATINGS TREND ON FOX
YEAR
RATING
'11
7.9
'10
9.1
'09
10.4
'08
11.0
'07
10.0
'06
10.6
'05
9.8
'04
10.3
'03
11.1
'02
11.4
'01
12.6
    

STRAIGHTFORWARD PERFORMANCE: FOXSPORTS.com's Brian Lowry writes Fox announcers Joe Buck and Tim McCarver "were customarily sober and professional, if a little boring," during last night's broadcast. McCarver is "as good as it gets when it comes to discussing balls and strikes or previewing the second-half pennant race, but he exhibited little interest in discussing any of the broader issues surrounding the game." Lowry writes the "best moment" came when a Fox camera operator "chased reliever Heath Bell as he ran from the bullpen onto the field and slid toward the mound" (FOXSPORTS.com, 7/13). In Detroit, Steve Schrader noted Buck in doing "player intros for Fox's broadcast and the stadium" introduced Tigers 1B Miguel Cabrera as Mariners P Felix Hernandez. Cabrera "laughed, pumped his fists and tipped his cap to cheers as Buck then gave the correct intro" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 7/13).

Buck has been suffering
from voice problems
A LITTLE ROUGH AROUND THE EDGES: Buck has been suffering from voice problems for several months, and the Ventura County Star’s Jim Carlisle wrote on his Twitter feed, “Sounds like Joe Buck's voice is a little subpar tonight.” The Buffalo News’ Mike Harrington: “Wow. Joe Buck can't provide any inflection whatsoever on a big moment. Terrible.” SI’s Jimmy Traina: “When buzz started to get Vin Scully to call the World Series, Fox, knowing Joe Buck was still ill, should've called on Vin to do this game.” Meanwhile, two prominent media writers got into a back and forth on Twitter concerning the health of Buck's voice. The N.Y. Daily News' Bob Raissman wrote in reference to a recent profile of Buck in USA Today, "Buck still has voice problem. Someone is hiding something despite that USA Today spin job." USA Today's Michael McCarthy, who wrote the profile, responded, "Hey Bob, spin this you twit" (TWITTER.com, 7/12).

HEY, SAY WHAT? Buck and McCarver in the bottom of the third inning discussed the fact several high-profile players selected to play in the game did not show up due to injuries. Buck noted Baseball HOFer Willie Mays is tied for the most All-Star Game appearances with 24 and said, “Willie Mays had some interesting quotes (Tuesday) in the Wall Street Journal with regard to guys not showing up for this All-Star Game. He said, ‘I was rewarded 24 times as an All-Star and I went 24 times. It’s not jury duty. Guys should show up’” (“MLB All-Star Game,” Fox, 7/12). However, blogger Larry Brown noted Mays "was not interviewed and he never made those remarks." Jason Gay, the author of the article Buck cited, "was merely making the point that other players could learn from Willie Mays who played in 24 All-Star Games." Brown: "I know there are plenty of staff members who assist the broadcasters during these games, so it’s possible someone else screwed up. ... If it was Buck who skimmed the story and thought that Mays made the quotes, then he deserves all the ridicule he’ll receive for misinterpreting it" (LARRYBROWNSPORTS.com, 7/12). HARDBALL TALK's Craig Calcaterra writes, "Just sloppiness by Buck and/or his production team as they looked for material to paint current ballplayers as lazy and entitled" (NBCSPORTS.com, 7/13).

THERE'S A GAME GOING ON, SOMEWHERE: YAHOO SPORTS' Rob Iracane writes entertainer Justin Timberlake "proved to be the most talked-about participant on an otherwise tame broadcast." Timberlake "went off the reservation just a bit when it came to Fox broadcaster Joe Buck ... while being interviewed by Mark Grace to promote his upcoming film 'Friends With Benefits,'" saying, "Joe Buck, you're calling a great game, Joe!" Meanwhile, Iracane writes Fox reporters Grace and Eric Karros are "terrible analysts and even worse interviewers, seemingly leaning on their subjects to provide both the answers and the questions" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 7/13). FOXSPORTS.com's Lowry writes there were a "handful of crass promotional detours, among them an awkward interview" with Timberlake. The net also ran a promo for the upcoming series "The X Factor" before the game (FOXSPORTS.com, 7/13). The broadcast began with a segment narrated by actor Brad Pitt, who is starring in the upcoming theatrical release of "Moneyball," and SI’s Richard Deitsch wrote, “We want to thank Brad Pitt by giving him a free promo from our broadcasters. #thefoxsportsway.” The N.Y. Times’ Richard Sandomir wrote, “Buck and McCarver hype BPitt; JTimberlake smooches Buck. Oy!! … OK, america, Timberlake not all-time worst ingame celeb intview but it's in top 10.”

FORMAT HERE TO STAY: MLB Commissioner Bud Selig yesterday "reiterated his support for tying home field advantage in the World Series to the outcome of the All-Star Game." Selig said that both he and Fox execs "like the World Series link." He joked, "Doing things that help your television partners is not an unconstitutional act" (WASHINGTON POST, 7/13). In L.A., Bill Shaikin notes "under the 'This Time It Counts' format, ratings have generally increased, and Fox sells out advertising at rates rivaling those charged for the league championship series." Fox Sports Media Group Vice Chair Ed Goren: "Madison Avenue absolutely loves the All-Star product" (L.A. TIMES, 7/13).

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