SBD/July 15, 2014/Media

Fox Sports Go App To Provide First-Ever Live Stream Of MLB All-Star Game

Fox Sports tonight will provide a live stream of the MLB All-Star Game, the first time this event has been available digitally. The authenticated broadcast will be available through Fox Sports Go, the network’s live streaming application. Fox Sports Go currently reaches 30 million TV subscribers, with a bump to 50 million expected later this year. The TV Everywhere rights were a fundamental component of Fox Sports’ new, eight-year media rights deal with MLB that went into effect this year. Fox Sports execs declined to identify any audience projections, but said the ability to stream an MLB jewel event will be beneficial to the overall concept of TV Everywhere, similar to its live stream earlier this year of the Daytona 500. Fox Sports Senior VP/Mobile & Advanced Platforms Clark Pierce said, “Our expectation is to continue the momentum of TV Everywhere. Every time we do one of these, we continue to learn a lot and advance the concept." Pierce added that the live stream also will be accessible through MLB.TV, but with the same Fox Sports Go authentication provisions (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer).

AGE OLD QUESTIONS: SI.com's Richard Deitsch notes viewership for the ASG "is hemorrhaging and in more unpleasant news for Fox Sports, the All-Star Game viewers are also getting older." Last year’s viewership increase "stopped a three-year decline in viewership but the game concluded as the third-least watched MLB All-Star Game in history." Deitsch speculated viewership will "keep dropping unless baseball fundamentally shifts its marketing to individual players rather than teams." However, that is a "hard sell regionally because baseball at its core is a regional game." One suggestion for Fox is "to add tonnage to its auxiliary programming around the game." The net needs to approach the MLB ASG "the way ESPN does with its mega-events" (SI.com, 7/13). However, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig disputes the perception MLB is becoming more regional. He said, "Sometimes when they look at national ratings, people will say, 'Well, it's more of a regional sport than others.' I haven't come to that conclusion yet. ... I know there are a lot of people on the television who seem to feel the same way. I think the overwhelming popularity of the sport is still so good that I don't describe it as a regional sport. However, having said that, the interest in each particular franchise in that region are at all-time highs. How that translates nationally is something I think we're trying to understand" ("Mike & Mike," ESPN Radio, 7/14).

MLB ALL-STAR GAME AUDIENCE TREND ON FOX
YEAR
LOCATION
RATING
VIEWERS (000)
'13
N.Y.
6.9
10,956
'12
K.C.
6.8
10,897
'11
Phoenix
6.9
10,973
'10
Anaheim
7.5
12,118
'09
St. Louis
8.9
14,593
'08
N.Y. (15 innings)
8.6
13,374
'07
S.F.
8.4
12,530
'06
Pittsburgh
9.3
14,424
'05
Detroit
8.1
12,330
'04
Houston
8.8
13,995

HARD-HITTING QUESTIONS: In N.Y., Richard Sandomir writes the Gillette Home Run Derby may "soon overtake" the ASG as a TV event. The Derby is "guaranteed to have home runs," while the actual All-Star Game has not had any in three of the last five contests. The primary reason that made MLB's ASG "resonate so much over the decades was its credibility." However, the evolution of the game has left MLB "with a not-very-special July exhibition in which, it seems, managers try to please fans of every team by inserting every player into the game." Somehow, in the past four years, the NFL Pro Bowl has "had more viewers" than the MLB ASG. Between '95-'13, viewership for the Derby "has risen, not fallen, with peaks and valleys in between." In '95, 4.6 million viewers watched; the show "hit its peak" in '98, the "celebrated year of drug-inflated home run production," with 9.17 million viewers. In the past few years it has attracted 6.4 million viewers to 6.8 million viewers (N.Y. TIMES, 7/15).
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