This season's Midsummer Classic averaged a record-low 3.9 rating and 7.01 million viewers, down 7% from last year's record-lows of 4.21 and 7.51 million, according to Sports Media Watch. The MLB All-Star Game has now set a record-low in ratings with five of the past seven games (2016, 2018, 2019, 2022, 2023).
This year's edition of the game saw the National League snap a nine-game losing streak against the American League with a 3-2 win at Seattle's T-Mobile Park. The heroics came in the eighth inning, when Colorado Rockies catcher Elias Díaz hit a two-run homer to give the NL a 3-2 lead.
— MLB (@MLB) July 12, 2023
Díaz, playing in his first career All-Star Game at 32 years old, was named MVP.
The preceding days in Seattle also saw a much-hyped MLB Draft, with the Pittsburgh Pirates taking LSU phenom Paul Skenes with the first pick, and Toronto Blue Jays star Vladimir Guerrero Jr. following in his dad's footsteps with a Home Run Derby win.
It was a fun week in a season that saw an early viewership win in the first year with the pitch clock's faster game time, but that apparently didn't translate to All-Star Game viewers. It should be noted that MLB isn't unique when it comes to decreased All-Star ratings.
Can MLB do anything about the All-Star Game?
The MLB All-Star Game is unique among All-Star Games in that it is the only one that, for lack of a better term, actually works.
The NFL's Pro Bowl suffered for decades because of the hesitance of all involved to play a game that is dangerous any time players walk on the field, while NBA and NHL All-Star Games lacked any incentive to try on defense. All three leagues have tinkered with their formula — or in the NFL's case, straight-up abandoned holding a game — but with little success, if judging the outcome by ratings.
MLB never had those problems because a) throwing one extra inning isn't a huge deal for pitchers and often coincides with their throwing day (American League starter Gerrit Cole described his outing Tuesday as "a lot of adrenaline for a bullpen day") and b) no hitter wants to strike out, and no pitcher wants to give up a home run on a national stage.
The MLB All-Star Game has always been the best All-Star Game, as far as the actual competition, but that's a double-edged sword now if the league deems the ratings unacceptable. It can tinker, but no mechanic can fix a car when the real problem is a jagged road.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred can certainly try, though any major changes risk cheapening a game that has more legitimacy than any of its peers.