Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game drew its second smallest prime-time audience, ahead of only the last time the game was played, but was still last week’s third most-watched prime-time program, according to live-plus-same-day figures released by Nielsen Tuesday.
Fox’s coverage of the American League’s 5-2 victory over the National League last Tuesday in Denver averaged 8.237 million viewers, 1% more than the record low of 8.153 million for the 2019 game. There was no All-Star Game in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
One factor in the slight increase was that Nielsen began including out-of-home viewing in its ratings figures last September.
Before this year, three of the four most recent MLB All-Star Games had set record lows. However, the MLB All-Star Game was the most-watched sports all-star game for the sixth consecutive time. Neither the NFL or NFL conducted all-star games in 2021 because of the pandemic.
Official viewership for most forms of programming is down compared to the past primarily due to higher viewership of streaming programming, including the same programs shown on traditional television, as well as increased competition from cable television, Fox and streaming programming and such leisure time activities as surfing the internet, playing video games and watching recorded programming.
The record audience for the All-Star Game came in 1976, when an average of 36.33 million viewers watched ABC’s coverage in an era where there were three major broadcast networks and few other television alternatives. Fox has carried the game each year since 2001.
ESPN’s coverage of the Home Run Derby on July 12 averaged 6.293 million viewers, its largest audience since 2017, when it averaged 8.176 million. The Home Run Derby was first among cable programs between July 12 and Sunday and fifth overall behind ABC’s coverage of Games 4 and 5 of the NBA Finals, the All-Star Game and NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.”
ABC’s coverage of Game 4 of the NBA Finals was the week’s most-watched program. Am average of 10.255 million viewers watched the Milwaukee Bucks’ 109-103 victory over the Phoenix Suns on July 14.
Milwaukee’s 123-119 victory in Game 5 Saturday averaged 9.615 million, second for the week, in what was the first Saturday NBA Finals game since 1981. The Saturday game, when prime-time television viewership is customarily at its lowest, was the result of the league’s practice to attempt to have two days between games when travel is involved.
Through five games, the Finals are averaging 9.366 million viewers. That’s 26.8% more than the record-low 7.386 five-game average for the 2020 finals between the Lakers and Miami Heat, which faced unprecedented sports competition, but 35% less than the 14.402 million five-game average for the 2019 Finals between the Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors, which were played in the traditional month of June.
ABC has carried the NBA Finals since 2003.
The NBA Finals and time slot victories by two of its Sunday game shows enabled ABC to be the most-watched network for the second consecutive week, averaging 4.05 million viewers.
“Celebrity Family Feud” won its Sunday 8 p.m. time slot, averaging 4.844 million viewers, seventh for the week, while “The Chase” won its Sunday 9 p.m. slot, averaging 3.832 million viewers, 11th for the week.
Fox was second for the week, averaging 2.91 million viewers for its 16 hours, 58 minutes of prime-time programming. NBC was third, averaging 2.55 million viewers, and CBS fourth, averaging 2.39 million.
ABC, NBC and CBS each aired 22 hours of prime-time programming.
The CW again was fifth among the five major English-language broadcast networks, averaging 520,000 viewers for its 12 hours of programming. The crime drama “Walker” was its most-watched program, averaging 963,000 viewers, 124th among broadcast programs. Its overall rank was not available.
Fox News Channel was the most-watched cable network for the second consecutive week, averaging 2.13 million viewers. Its most-watched program was the Wednesday edition of the political talk show “Tucker Carlson Tonight” which averaged 3.218 million viewers, third among prime-time cable programs and 21st overall.
ESPN was second, averaging 1.352 million and MSNBC third, averaging 1.278 million.
The most-watched Spanish-language program was Univision’s coverage of Mexico’s 1-0 victory over El Salvador in a group play game of the CONCACAF Gold Cup men’s soccer tournament Sunday which averaged 3.635 million viewers, 14th for the week.
Univision was the most-watched Spanish-language network for the 85th consecutive week and 87th time in 88 weeks, averaging 1.57 million viewers. Telemundo was second, averaging 1 million viewers, followed by UniMas (540,000), Estrella TV (100,000) and Azteca America (40,000).
ABC’s “World News Tonight with David Muir” was the most-watched network nightly newscast for the 85th consecutive week, the 136th time in 137 weeks and the 188th time in 190 weeks, averaging 7.578 million viewers.
“NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt” was second, averaging 6.058 million viewers, followed by the “CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell,” which averaged 4.694 million viewers.
The week’s 10 most-watched prime-time programs were ABC’s coverage of Games 4 and 5 of the NBA Finals; Fox’s coverage of the MLB All-Star Game; NBC’s “America’s Got Talent”; ESPN’s coverage of the Home Run Derby; CBS’ “60 Minutes”; ABC’s “Celebrity Family Feud” and “America’s Funniest Home Videos”; a rerun of CBS’ “NCIS”; and ABC’s “The Chase.”
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