All-Star Game audience creeps toward Pro Bowl levels

Once upon a time, the Major League All-Star Game counted as one of the tentpole events of summer. That time isn’t now.

On Tuesday night, the midsummer not-as-classic-as-it-used-to-be fell to an all-time low audience of 7.5 million, via Sports Business Journal.

That’s more, but not much more, than the Pro Bowl, which generated 6.69 million viewers earlier this year. And the Pro Bowl, as a game, is a shadow of what it once was. It’s full-pads two-hand touch, even if that’s all it should be.

The fact that the Pro Bowl performs so well in comparison to other all-star games (the NBA drew 6.28 million and the NHL saw an anemic 1.15 million on ABC earlier this year) justifies keeping it, even as Commissioner Roger Goodell has renewed his periodic huffing and puffing about blowing the game down.

Is it good for Big Shield to have such a bad game? No, but no one seems to care. The fans understand why players who are healthy in early February wouldn’t want to head into the offseason with a high-speed, full-contact game.

The Pro Bowl is far from perfect. Eventually, however, it probably will enjoy a bigger audience than any of the other major league exhibitions of the best players in the sport. That’s reason enough to keep it going.