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All-Star Ratings Fall To New Low

The All-Scar game drew the lowest TV ratings ever for the Midsummer Classic.

With a host of marquee players out injured, NBC's broadcast of the All-Star game Tuesday night drew a 10.1 national rating with an 18 share, the worst numbers ever for the showcase contest.

The rating, released Wednesday by Nielsen Media Research, dropped 16 percent from the 12.0 with a 22 share recorded last year on Fox. The 11.8/21 that Fox got for the 1997 edition was the previous low for an All-Star game.

The gathering of baseball's best consistently drew ratings above 20 throughout the 1970s '80s.

The network TV rights for the major leagues are on the market, after NBC and Fox last month rejected baseball's demands that they triple their payments. The rights include the All-Star game, playoffs, World Series and Saturday game of the week, and the current contracts expire after this season.

NBC's pregame show Tuesday drew a 7.3 rating, down 30 percent from 1999's 10.5.

An estimated 34 million people watched at least part of the game, NBC said.

Fans in St. Louis watched more than any other market in the country, with a 20.4 rating. Atlanta, which hosted the game at Turner Field, drew a 19.8, with New York at 13.2.

The peak audience was from 9:30-10 p.m. EDT, when the rating was 11.2. Last year, that time slot drew a 14.1 for Fox.

Mark McGwire, Ken Griffey Jr., Pedro Martinez and Greg Maddux were among those who missed the game, which the American League won 6-3. Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter was the MVP, going 3-for-3 and driving in two runs.

A record seven starters were unable to play, a group batting a combined .301 with 160 home runs this season and a total of 66 All-Star appearances.

"When you have Alex Rodriguez getting a concussion and Mike Piazza beaned and other players out, interest is going to diminish," NBC Sports vice president Kevin Sullivan said. "It's bad luck. There's nothing you can do about it. Those factors were reflected in the rating."

The Home Run Derby, broadcast by ESPN on Monday night, also fared relatively poorly. Its 5.73 national cable rating was a drop of 24 percent from last year's 7.51 and the lowest sinc 1997.

The derby was shown on tape-delay until 1998, when ESPN broadcast live from Coors Field.

Each rating point on NBC represents 1 percent of the country's estimated 100.8 million TV households; that number is 78.2 million for ESPN. The share is the percentage of in-use TVs tuned to a given program.

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