Ratings Roundup: NBCSN Rides NASCAR, F1 to Most-Watched Year on Record

Powered by the addition of NASCAR and with plenty of help from a record setting ratings season for Formula One, NBC Sports Network is poised to close out its most-watched year on record.

In its third season presenting Formula One, NBC Sports Group’s 2015 coverage of all 19 races across NBC, NBCSN and CNBC produced its highest viewership, highlighted by NBCSN delivering the most-watched F1 season for a single cable network in two decades.

NBCSN_logoOverall, NBC Sports Group’s F1 coverage on NBC/NBCSN/CNBC averaged 521,000 viewers, up 14 % vs 2014 (457,000), and up 42% from its inaugural season of F1 coverage in 2013 (366,000). Meanwhile, NBCSN averaged 418,000 viewers for its live coverage of 13 races this season, up 9% vs. 2014 (385,000), to rank as the best F1 season for a single cable network since 1995 (ESPN; 755,000 viewers).

With many live races beginning before 8 a.m. ET, time-shifted viewing for NBCSN’s F1 coverage drove viewership even higher in the 2015 season. Including all available Live+7 data on NBCSN, F1 races averaged 521,000 viewers, up 14% from Live+7 viewership on NBCSN last year (458,000). An NBCSN record five races averaged more than 500,000 viewers (Bahrain, Spain, Austria, Belgium and Singapore), highlighted by 630,000 average viewers for the Bahrain Grand Prix on April 19, which was the most-watched non-domestic F1 race on cable in eight years (2007 Brazilian Grand Prix; 662,000 on SPEED)…

…In addition to its record-setting F1 coverage, NBC’s broadcast of the 2015 Sprint Cup Championship from Miami on Nov. 22 stands as the most-watched NASCAR season finale in a decade. Since the debut of live NASCAR racing over July 4th weekend, NBCSN has averaged 183,000 viewers in Total Day audience (6 a.m.-6 a.m.), which marks an increase of +120% over the same period one year ago and the best Total Day increase for any cable network in that five-month stretch (June 29-Nov. 29). NASCAR fueled NBCSN to its most-watched third quarter (June 29-Sept. 27) in history. NBC’s five 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup races reached a total audience of nearly 31 million viewers (30.68M), up +42% vs. those races in 2014 (21.61M), and the Nov. 22 broadcast of the 2015 Sprint Cup Championship from Miami on NBC is the most-watched NASCAR season finale in a decade. The five Sprint Cup races on NBC averaged a 3.21 rating and 5.25 million viewers, up +12% and +10%, respectively, over those events in 2014.

The Nov. 22, 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship averaged 7.64 million viewers and posted a combined 4.42 national HH rating on NBC and NBCSN, marking increases of +46% (vs. 5.22 million) +41% (vs. 3.14 HH) over the previous year’s presentation on ESPN. The 7.64 million viewers make last Sunday’s Championship the most-watched NASCAR’s season finale since NBC presented the season-ending event in 2005. Viewing peaked from 7:45P-7:56 p.m. ET with nearly 12.4 million average viewers as Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon raced to the finish line, ranking as the largest peak audience for NASCAR since the 2015 Daytona 500.

SEC Championship on CBS Leads Power 5 Title Games
CBS Sports’ coverage of Alabama’s win at the SEC Championship game on Saturday ranks as the highest-rated college football game of the year. The matchup drew an overnight household rating/share in the metered markets of 8.3/17, for a rise over 8% over last year’s 7.7/16 for Alabama-Missouri.

The SEC Championship was the highest-rated conference championship game of the five power conferences. The Big Ten earned a 5.9 (Michigan State/Iowa on Fox, up 60% from last year), the ACC notched a 4.6 (Clemson/North Carolina on ABC, down 33% from last year), and the Pac-12 drew a 2.0 overnight (Stanford/USC on ESPN, down 52% from last year). Meanwhile ESPN’s coverage of the Texas/Baylor (the Big 12 does not hold a conference championship game) drew a 2.8 overnight.

Following the games, ESPN’s four-hour College Football Playoff Selection Show earned a 0.9 overnight rating, down 44% from a 1.6 for last year’s three-hour show. (SBD)…

…Earlier in the day, the inaugural American Athletic Championship between Houston and Temple drew a 2.0 overnight on ABC. (SMW)…

Thursday Night Football Package Finishes Strong
Thursday’s Green Bay/Detroit TNF wrapped up the season for the CBS and NFL Network simulcast package. Ratings and viewership for Thursday Night Football increased nine percent from last year, according to national ratings data from Nielsen. The average household rating for the games simulcasted on both networks was 10.9 with a 19 share. In 2014, the household rating was 10.0 with a 17 share. The average audience for NFL Thursday night games was 17.6 million viewers, up from 16.1 million a year ago. The overall numbers for the 11 TNF games broadcast this season showed similar increases. The telecasts drew a 9.4 average household rating and 17 share, up from 8.3 and a 14 share last year for a 13 percent boost. Viewership averaged 15.2 million, also a 13 percent increase from last year’s 13.4 million audience.

The Packers/Lions game drew an average audience of 17.8 million, with the highest viewership of 21.1 million between 11:30 and 11:41 p.m. ET, when the Packers were mounting their amazing comeback for a 27-23 victory. That marks a 59% increase from the game played on the same week last year between the Dallas Cowboys and San Diego Chargers. Packers-Lions was also up 38 percent from the Chargers-49ers contest that was the last game of the 2014 TNF package, but played on a Saturday night. (Awful Announcing)

NFL Week 13 Overnights Roundup
On Sunday, Fox’s national window (Panthers/Saints in 61% of markets) had an 18.2 overnight rating— down 5% from Patriots/Packers on CBS last year (19.2). CBS’s singleheader window earned an 11.3 overnight rating, up 11% from Saints/Steelers on Fox last year (10.2). Sunday Night Football’s Colts/Steelers matchup had a 12.2 overnight rating on NBC, down 8% from Broncos/Chiefs last year (13.2) and the second-lowest of the season for SNF (11.7 for Bengals/Cardinals two weeks earlier). (SMW)
On Monday Night, Cowboys/Washington Monday Night Football game earned a 10.0 overnight rating on ESPN, up 22% from Dolphins/Jets last year (8.2) but down 6% from Saints/Seahawks in 2013 (10.6). Overnights peaked at an 11.5 from 11:30-11:45 PM ET, marking just the third time since Week 1 that MNF has peaked after 10 PM ET. (SMW)

ESPN, Fox Comes up Big in College Football Week 13
Then-No.8 Ohio State at No. 10 Michigan (noon ET on ABC) earned a 6.4 HH rating resulting in 10,830,000 viewers, the highest-rated and most-watched college football game of week 13 across all networks. Additionally, ‘The Game’ is tied for the second highest-rated and is the third most-watched college football game of the season, both across all networks. This was ABC’s most-watched noon game in more than 18 years (Nov. 22, 1997), a game which also featured the same two teams. It was the third most-watched Buckeyes-Wolverines matchup on ABC on record – notably surpassing the 2002 matchup (Ohio State’s BCS National Championship season), but trailing the 2006 and 1997 matchups. The telecast was up 32% in viewership from last year’s matchup (Ohio State’s College Football Playoff National Championship season) between the two teams (Nov. 29, 2014, at noon on ABC).

On WatchESPN, it was the most-streamed game of Week 13, adding 118,000 average minute impressions to the TV audience and a total of 455,000 unique viewers resulting in 25,000,000 minutes watched…

…Other ESPN college football highlights incluced No. 4 Iowa at Nebraska (Nov. 27 at 3:30 p.m.) averaged 6,189,000 viewers, ABC’s most-watched Black Friday game in 10 years (Texas A&M at Texas on Nov. 25, 2005) and up 111% from the same TV window last season (Stanford at UCLA on Nov. 28, 2014).

No. 7 Baylor at No. 19 TCU (7:30 p.m. on ESPN**) averaged 5,108,000 viewers, ESPN’s most-watched Black Friday game in five years and the fourth most-watched regular season Friday game ever on ESPN (109 games). The Big 12 battle was up 68% from the same window last year (Virginia at Virginia Tech on Nov. 28, 2014).

ABC Saturday Night Football featuring No. 3 Oklahoma at No. 11 Oklahoma State (8 p.m.) averaged 4,794,000 viewers, up 45% from the same window last year (Oregon at Oregon State on Nov. 29, 2014).

ABC regional action on Nov. 28 at 3:30 p.m. (No. 22 UCLA at USC or No. 14 North Carolina at NC State) averaged 4,222,000 viewers, up 5% from same window last season (Baylor at Texas Tech and Michigan State at Penn State on Nov. 29, 2014).

No. 1 Clemson at South Carolina (Nov. 28 at noon on ESPN) averaged  2,943,000 viewers, up 46% from the rivals’ matchup last year, played also the Saturday-after-Thanksgiving at noon on ESPN (Nov. 29, 2014).

WatchESPN was up 55% in average minute impressions, unique viewers, and total minutes viewed, respectively, in week 13 compared to the similar calendar week last year (week 14 of the college football season)…

…Fox also posted big TV numbers for its telecast of Stanford’s thrilling 38-36 win over Notre Dame on Nov. 28. The game drew a 4.7 overnight rating. That was the network’s highest overnight ever for a regular season college football game and its best since drawing a 4.0 overnight for Oregon-Michigan State last season. (Cynopsis Sports)

Big Ratings North of the Border
Sportsnet delivered 42% year-over-year growth, with the largest share (5.3) and average minute audience (221,000) of any sports brand on TV in Canada for the period Jan. 1 – Nov. 30, 2015. For the month of November, Sportsnet delivered a 4.1 audience share and an average minute audience of 177,000, marking 10% year-over-year growth for Sportsnet in November.

On the digital side, Sportsnet.ca delivered increases of 104% unique visitors and 112% page views from Jan. 1 – Nov. 30, in comparison to the same period in 2014. Following a record-breaking October which saw Blue Jays traffic drive significant growth on Sportsnet.ca, the website experienced further growth in November, delivering an increase of total unique visitors (17%) and total page views (75%) year-over-year.

Season-to-date, the average audience for Scotiabank Wednesday Night Hockey is 833,000, up 19% in comparison to last season. Rogers Hometown Hockey delivered an average audience of 445,000 for the month of November, marking an increase of 41% in comparison to October. In addition  Year-over-year, paid subscriptions for Rogers NHL GameCentre LIVE have increased 122%, total active users are up 25% in comparison to the entire 2014-15 NHL season average, and average stream minutes per user have increased 75% in comparison to last season.

Sportsnet delivered an average audience of 249,000 for its Grand Slam of Curling broadcasts in November, marking an increase of 8% in comparison to the same period last year (231,000)

Year-to-date, Sportsnet Central prime time is attracting an average audience of 192,000, marking an increase of 72% year-over-year…

…TSN and RDS’s viewership for the 103rd Grey Cup on Nov. 29, grew 6% compared to last year (according to preliminary overnight data from Numeris). An average audience of 4.3 million viewers tuned in to TSN and RDS to watch the Edmonton Eskimos win over the Ottawa Redblacks Overall, 9.7 million unique viewers, or nearly 30% of the entire Canadian population, watched some or all of the 2015 CFL championship game on TSN and RDS. Audiences for the 103rd GREY CUP presented by Shaw peaked at 5.5 million viewers late in the game as Edmonton scored a clutch goal line touchdown to take the lead for good in the fourth quarter. The game became the highest-rated program of the calendar year in the Edmonton Extended Market, with 66% of people watching television tuning in for the broadcast…

Ratings Odds and Ends: MLS Cup, Hard Knocks, Jimmy V Women’s Classic
The Crew/Timbers MLS Cup earned a 0.4 overnight rating on ESPN Sunday afternoon, down a third from Revolution/Galaxy last year (0.6). The 0.4 is the lowest ever for the MLS Cup on an English-language network. (SMW)…

…HBO’s Hard Knocks, featuring the Houston Texans, averaged 4.4 million viewers per episode, the most-watched since the New York Jets averaged 4.6 million in 2010. (Houston Chronicle)…

…ESPN’s coverage of the annual Jimmy V Women’s Classic – featuring top-ranked UConn’s 91-81 win over No. 3 Notre Dame on Saturday, Dec. 5 – tied the highest-ever overnight rating for a regular-season women’s college basketball game across ESPN networks with a 1.5. It ties the overnight rating for ESPN’s coverage of Stanford breaking UConn’s 90-game win streak on Dec. 30, 2010 on ESPN2. The game garnered a 200% increase (1.5 vs. 0.5 meter market average) over ESPN’s presentation of the 2014 Jimmy V Women’s Classic – also a matchup between then-No. 1 UConn at No. 3 Notre Dame on Saturday, Dec. 6. Hartford was the highest-rated market for the UConn-ND matchup, bringing a 9.3 overnight rating, the market’s highest overnight since Connecticut faced Baylor on Dec. 18, 2011 (12.4 metered market rating). The top five markets were Hartford (9.3); Los Angeles (6.7); San Francisco (5.9); Portland (5.3); Seattle (5.0)…

…The Charlotte Hornets game against the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday, December 2, generated a 2.7 household (HH) rating in the Charlotte DMA on FOX Sports Southeast. The game was seen in over 39,000 households in the Charlotte DMA and is the highest-rated Hornets regular season game since the 2014-15 season opener (Wednesday, October 29 vs. the Milwaukee Bucks – which generated a 2.8 HH rating). The Warriors-Hornets game peaked at a 3.8 HH rating during the 8:00 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. ET quarter hours marking the highest peak ratings since the 2014-15 season opener. The Hornets LIVE! pre- and postgame shows generated a 0.4 HH rating and a 0.7 HH rating, respectively, – the highest-rated Hornets LIVE! pre- and postgame shows of the season…

…HBO Sports saw the 20th anniversary of Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel average 3.1 million viewers in 2015. That marks a 19% uptick over numbers from three years ago with cumulative monthly viewership up 27%. (Cynopsis Sports)…

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