Ad Sales Tagging Up in All-Star Game

Jul 3, 2008  •  Post A Comment

With a salute to the final season of play at Yankee Stadium anchoring this year’s Major League Baseball All-Star Weekend, broadcasters are all but sold out of ad inventory despite increased prices.
Fox Sports, which is carrying the game as well as the “MLB All-Star Game Red Carpet Parade” immediately preceding the event, has nearly sold out its inventory, selling spots during the game for as much as $550,000, according to sources, while 30-second spots during the parade have brought as much as $150,000.
“We wanted to put something together that people will be talking about for years,” said Fox Sports President Ed Goren. “Sponsors have responded, despite a sales environment of doom and gloom. In fact, I would say our guys are having career years.”
The festivities begin the weekend of July 13, culminating in the parade and the 79th All-Star Game Tuesday, July 15. Since agreeing last year to extend its relationship with MLB for an average of $250 million per season, Fox has made the All-Star Game one of the company’s summer priorities.
This year, Fox will ask each player, manager and coach to wear a microphone, although it’s not mandatory.
Fox also plans to bring in “Diamond-Cams,” new cameras offering wider, high-def views from the field. Tim McCarver and Joe Buck will call the game.
The parade will be taped for a one-hour broadcast later in the day. The event, previously aired on FSN, is being carried by the Fox network for the first time. This year it features baseball legends including Hank Aaron, Yogi Berra, Bob Feller, Reggie Jackson and Willie Mays.
“This is an event that dominates the summer landscape and can feel like the Super Bowl,” Mr. Goren said. “That’s why, in lieu of a pre-game this year, we decided to use a parade as the lead-in to the game, where today’s greatest players and dozens of Hall of Famers can capture that magic for the sport.”
That sentiment was shared by ESPN, where Major League Baseball All-Star coverage will be highlighted by ESPN, ESPN Radio, ESPN Deportes and ESPN360.com’s live coverage of the 2008 State Farm Home Run Derby Monday, July 14, at 8 p.m. The Derby typically ranks as the channel’s highest-rated summer program.
“Sales are strong and we continue to see a demand for the property,” said Ed Erhardt, president of ESPN customer marketing and sales. “When we look at baseball inventory, we continue to see a strong demand for the sport. In fact, nearly all sports are doing well right now. That said, the All-Star weekend continues to showcase the strength of the ESPN brand and we are happy to be a part of it.”
In addition to the Derby, ESPN will air the All-Star Celebrity Softball Game July 14, as well as the AAA All-Star Game on July 16.
While ad rates continue to hold sway despite a dipping economy, baseball ratings this year have softened from their spike in 2007. Fox Saturday Baseball has seen ratings decline 20% from a 2.5 last season to a 2.0, although most of the channel’s game featuring “heavyweight” teams such as the Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees have yet to air.
ESPN baseball ratings also are down, dipping from a 1.2 to a 1.0 for a 17% drop. TBS, meanwhile, is averaging a 0.5 in its first outing with the full spectrum of MLB teams.

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