This year’s Midsummer Classic was a memorable one. Yoenis Cespedes won his second Home Run Derby in a row, the first to win back-to-back Derby’s since Ken Griffey Jr. in 1998-1999. Meanwhile, Mike Trout officially became baseball’s next big thing by winning All-Star Game MVP. Both of these feats were overshadowed by 14-time All-Star and five-time World Series Champion, Derek Jeter’s final All-Star game.
This year’s festivities have proven that these mid-season events are still popular and that MLB has the star power to produce a marketable product.
Fox’s broadcast of the 85th All-Star Game at Target Field, Minneapolis was the most watched All-Star Game since 2010 and had the first consecutive ratings increase since 1993 and 1994. In the first hour, while Jeter played, viewership averaged 11.07 million and a 3.0 rating with the essential 18-49 year-old demographic. This is a promising result for baseball, after the World Cup dominated ratings for the last month and many believe that soccer has surpassed baseball in popularity among the youth demographic.
Richard Deitsch from Sports Illustrated’s predicted that “viewership will keep dropping unless baseball fundamentally shifts its marketing to individual players rather than teams. But that’s a hard sell regionally because baseball at its core is a regional game.” The viewership success of the game marketed around Jeter’s final appearance has proven his point.
Cespedes’ second Home Run Derby, Trout’s MVP, and Jeter’s perfect performance made for a great All-Star weekend. Mariano Rivera’s appearance last year was memorable, this year was exceptional, but what’s to say next year won’t be unforgettable? In the future, the MLB needs to focus its mid-season event around marketable stars like Trout, the heir apparent to Jeter, while highlighting the spectacle of the All-Star Game and the excitement of the Home Run Derby.