Ratings Roundup: Masters Playoff Delivers Big Audience for CBS; NCAA Tourney Hits 19-Year Viewership High

CBS Sports’ final-round coverage of the 2013 Masters on April 14 earned an average overnight household rating/share of 10.2/21, up 26% from last year’s 8.1/19 in the Nielsen metered markets. The final-round rating peaked with a 13.4/25 from 7:00-7:30 PM, ET Australia’s Adam Scott and Argentina’s Angel Cabrera entered a sudden-death playoff at Augusta. CBS Sports’ coverage of the 2013 Masters on Saturday, April 14 scored an average HH rating/share of 6.3/15, up 24% from last year’s 5.1/12 in the metered markets.

ESPN also put up big numbers at Augusta for its Thursday and Friday Masters coverage. The network’s average audience of 4.2 million viewers was the highest-rated and most-viewed Friday coverage for the event on ESPN (besting last year’s 4.1 million) and the fourth-largest audience ever to watch golf on cable. According to Nielsen fast nationals, ESPN’s telecast earned a 3.5 household coverage rating, surpassing the previous Friday coverage record of 3.3 set in 2010 and matched last year. The rating grew six percent from last year. ESPN’s two-day average rating of 2.9 and average viewership of 3.4 million were each up 4%, respectively, from last year’s 2. And 3.4 million. The two-day viewership average was ESPN’s second-highest for the Masters, exceeded only by 4.4 million for Woods’ return in 2010…

…The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament hit a 19-year viewership high, averaging 10.7 million total viewers across CBS, TNT, TBS, and TruTV. That total is up 11% from last year’s 9.6 million total viewers, and is the highest average for the Tournament since 1994 (11.2 million viewers).  In terms of ratings, the tournament averaged a HH rating/share of 6.7/14, up 10% from last year’s 6.1/13, and is the highest average NCAA Tournament rating in eight years (6.9/15; 2005).

The National Championship game on April 8, which saw Louisville defeat Michigan on CBS, averaged 23.4 million viewers, up 12% from last year’s 20.9 million and up 17% from 20.1 million in 2011. The game drew just slightly less than the 23.9 million who watched Duke beat Butler in 2010. The championship game coverage peaked in HH rating/share with a 16.1/27 and average viewers with 27.1 million, from 11-11:30 p.m. ET. In terms of ratings, the game earned an average fast national household rating/share of 14.0/22, up 14% from last year’s 12.3/19 (Kentucky-Kansas) and up 20% from 2011’s 11.7 rating. Louisville/Michigan tied Duke/Butler in 2010 as the highest rated title game since North Carolina/Illinois in 2005 (14.2)…

…As for the the Women’s NCAA Tournament, all three games of the Final Four, including the Connecticut/Louisville title game, had declines compared to last year (likely due to the early exit of Brittney Griner’s Baylor squad). Outside of the Final Four, Baylor’s upset loss in the Sweet 16 was the top draw with a 0.9 U.S. rating and 1.5 million viewers

…And finally, at the NIT, the top draw was Kentucky’s upset loss to Robert Morris in the first round (1.1, 1.6M). The actual NIT final between Baylor and Iowa drew only a 0.8 and 1.3 million

..Buoyed by seven of the 10 most-watched NHL games in the network’s history, NBC Sports Network viewership rose 14% in the first quarter compared to first quarter in 2012. NHL programming was up 58% compared to Q1 in 2012, the best start in the network’s history; The Dan Patrick Show viewership is up 58% compared to time period in 2012 Q1; the opening IndyCar telecast rose 78%; and MLS games are up 8% over last year…

…NBA TV averaged 336,000 total viewers for its 98 regular-season telecasts, up 33% over the last full NBA regular-season in 2010-11 (253,000). The network also generated four of its top five most-viewed regular season telecasts of all time, topped by 868,000 viewers for L.A. Lakers-Portland on Oct. 31, 2012, and 764,000 viewers for Indiana-Miami on March 10, 2013. In addition, NBA TV’s seven installments of Open Court averaged 140,000 total viewers (up 87% over last year’s six shows) and, through 12 episodes, The Association experienced a 17% increase among total viewers when compared with a total of seven shows in 2011-12. The network’s signature NBA GameTime studio show delivering its most-viewed season ever for live episodes airing throughout the 2012-13 regular season.

Meanwhile, NBA.com recorded nearly 6.6 billion page views and 3.9 billion video streams – both all-time records – from the start of the season through Sunday, April 14. NBA Mobile generated more than 86 million video streams this season, a record-setting mark. And nearly 100 million alert notifications (which are consumer opt-ins) were distributed across digital platforms this season, a new all-time record.

…With the final audience data of the season now in, curling continues to draw big audiences for TSN in Canada. Overall, more than 13.7 million Canadians, or close to half the population, have tuned in to watch some of TSN’s extensive curling coverage this season. TSN’s live primetime curling coverage attracted an average audience of 561,000 viewers – making it one of the network’s most popular sports properties. TSN wrapped up its exclusive Season of Champions coverage with its most-watched draw of the year, attracting an average audience of 1.13 million viewers for the 2013 Ford World Men’s Championship Final on April 7.


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