When I think of sports, one of the first things that come to mind are the All-Stars that bring millions of viewers to their TV sets. I am going to analyze the four major American sport leagues: NBA, NFL, MLB, and the NHL. NBA has LeBron James, Kobe Bryant; NFL: Peyton Manning, Tom Brady; MLB: David Ortiz, Clayton Kershaw; NHL: Henrik Lundqvist, Zdeno Chara. These are just two athletes from each sport that immediately come to mind, but in reality, each sport has over 5 athletes that your average sports fan can name off the bat. A lot of teams success relies on these stars to “put the team on their back” and carry them through the post season. Or also as a result, an athletes success in the sports post-season (ex. Paul George) raises them to Super Star status. 2014 Super Bowl: 111.5 million viewers. 2011 SB: 111 million viewers. 2008 SB: 97.4 million viewers. 2001 SB: 84 million viewers. 1996 SB: 94.1 million viewers. Star power had a lot to do with the rating drop from 2001 compared to the other 4 years I listed above. 2014, 2011, 2008, and 1996 featured the star power Quarterbacks (most important position in football) of Peyton Manning, Russell Wilson, Ben Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers, Eli Manning, Tom Brady, and Troy Aikman. 2001 on the other hand featured a QB dual of Elvis Grbac, and Kerry Collins. (WHO??)
Being as though superstars have a huge impact on television ratings, the four popular American professional sports leagues that I listed above have their own events that feature nothing but the games best. NHL, NBA, and MLB’s All Star Games happen half-way through the season, representing a 4 day period where the stars come out and have a fun time “goofing” off with each other. While the NFL has the Pro Bowl, which was just recently moved to the weekend before the Super Bowl.
A spectacle where these future Hall of Famers/Superstars meet would generate a huge audience right? WRONG! Year after year the ratings always seem to disappoint. The NBA All Star Game that just happened this past Sunday generated 7.5 million viewers, a 6% drop from the 2013 NBA All Star Game numbers. The NBA is not the only case for this drop. The MLB All Star Game generated 34.2 million viewers in 1982, and dropped down to 11 million in 2013. This is such a surprise because today’s superstars are only getting more athletic, putting up better numbers, and beginning their prime at even younger ages. It has gotten so bad, both the MLB and NFL have changed their All Star Game formats over the past couple of years.
The MLB has included a very important prize for the conference that wins in this “exhibition” game. The winner, whether it’s the American League, or the National League gets home field advantage for the world series. Although this was supposed to raise the stakes, many fans have seen this prize as a “dumb” attempt at making the game interesting. Which it apparently doesn’t because the numbers are lower and lower every year.
The NFL on the other hand recently switched up its format this past season. They don’t divide the two All Star Teams by the division that they are in. They had two Hall of Famers (Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders) draft players from both conferences, kind of like pick up backyard football style. Although this resulted in a higher rating, there was still lots of controversy because players on the same team were hitting each other hard, and the risk of injury always stirs up trouble.
Ratings continue to drop, or stay stagnant. That has been the case for years now, so is it even worth the money to broadcast an extra game that the stars don’t take seriously, let alone seem like they want to play?