Ratings Roundup: NCAA Championship Game Audience Down 37%, But Still Wins the Night

The NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship, in which Villanova defeated North Carolina at the final buzzer, 77-74, averaged 17.8 million total viewers and a 13.2 HH coverage rating/10.6 U.S HH rating across TBS, TNT and truTV. That is down 37% in viewership and down 34% in rating from last season’s Duke/Wisconsin showdown on CBS ((16.0, 28.3 million), which drew the largest audience in 18 years. The game was the first Championship to air on TBS rather than CBS as part of the two networks combined rights deal with the NCAA (TBS is currently in about 18 percent fewer households than CBS). Viewership was down 16% and rating was down 15% percent from the 21.3 million and 12.4 rating for UConn-Kentucky in 2014. The previous low was a 10.8 rating for North Carolina-Michigan State in 2009. (AP)

2016_Final_Four_LogoDespite the declines compared to previous CBS telecasts, the game ranks as the second most-viewed college basketball telecast in the history of cable television, trailing only the 2015 National Semifinal game between Wisconsin/Kentucky (also airing across TBS, TNT and truTV). The National Championship telecast was also the highest-rated and most-viewed program of the night across all of television. Turner networks have now been home to cable television’s top 14 most-viewed college basketball games of all time.

Villanova’s victory over North Carolina peaked with an average of 22.3 million total viewers and a 16.5 HH coverage rating/13.2 U.S. HH rating from 11:15-11:30 p.m. ET, during the final moments of the game.  Based on quarter-hour delivery, the audience grew 51% from the start of the game leading up to its epic conclusion.

Collectively, the National Championship grossed 2.5 billion minutes of consumption across television and digital platforms. NCAA March Madness Live netted 3.4 million live video streams and 1.1 million live hours of video consumption, the latter a 16% increase over last year.

Monday’s National Championship also generated 56 million impressions across March Madness social accounts on Twitter and Facebook, up 112% over last year.  Social video views were up more than five times the volume of last year’s championship game with eight million views overall…

…The NCAA Women’s Final Four National Final between top-seeded UConn and No. 2 seed Oregon State on Sunday delivered a 1.7 overnight rating on ESPN, up 31 percent from last year’s first semifinal tilt between South Carolina and Notre Dame (1.3). The game is also up 6 percent over UConn’s 2015 semifinal game (1.6), the second of the ESPN doubleheader. Combined, the two Women’s Final Four National Semifinal games experienced 34 percent increase in average minute audience, 14 percent increase in total unique viewers and 30 percent increase in total minutes viewed compared to last year’s semifinal games. The two National Semifinal games – which also included No. 4 seed Syracuse against No. 10 seed Washington on ESPN2 – earned a combined 1.4 overnight rating, comparable to ESPN’s doubleheader in 2014. The second semifinal delivered a 1.0 rating.

On a market-by-market basis for the UConn-Oregon State game on ESPN, Hartford delivered the highest-rated market at 19.2, followed by Portland (7.0), Seattle (4.4) and Knoxville (3.0). The top metered markets for Syracuse-Washington on ESPN2 were led by Seattle (8.7), Hartford (5.8), Knoxville (2.2) and Portland (2.0).

On WatchESPN, UConn vs. Oregon State experienced a 70 percent increase in average minute audience, 32 percent increase in total unique viewers and 59 percent increase in total minutes viewed compared to the first semifinal game in 2015 (South Carolina vs. Notre Dame). The game experienced a 45 percent increase in average minute audience, 38 percent increase in total unique viewers and 59 percent increase in total minutes viewed compared to UConn’s semifinal game last year…

…beIN SPORTS telecast of the “El Clásico” matchup between LaLiga’s FC Barcelona and Real Madrid on April 2 averaged more than 1.9 million total viewers (P2+) across both networks. “El Clásico” on beIN SPORTS en Español ranks as the #1 soccer telecast YTD across all cable networks regardless of language outperforming telecasts such as Univision Deportes’ Liga MX Super Clásico “Guadalajara vs. América” and the World Cup Qualifier match “México vs. Canada”; ESPN2’s World Cup Qualifier match “USA vs. Guatemala”; and NBCSN’s English Premier League “Chelsea vs. Arsenal”. The simulcast of “El Clásico” on beIN SPORTS ranks as the fifth highest rated soccer telecast among competitors such as NBCSN, ESPN2 and Fox Sports and sits in the top 15 among all soccer matches YTD across all languages. The April 2nd telecast of the season’s second installment of “El Clásico” averaged 1,915,487 total viewers (P2+), seeing a 2.2% increase in viewership since the previous match on November 21st, 2015, which averaged 1,874,582 total viewers (P2+) across both networks

The broadcast of “FC Barcelona vs. Real Madrid” had the #1 most socially engaged audience across all sporting events of the day based on tweets per unique author outperforming “Villanova vs. Oklahoma” and “North Carolina vs. Syracuse” Final Four matches on TBS, in addition to “World Figure Skating Championships” and “Phoenix Grand Prix” on NBCSN. beIN SPORTS’ broadcast of “FC Barcelona vs. Real Madrid” was the #2 most social program of the day across all categories, with the most tweeted minute of the game occurring at 4:15 pm ET with 11,000 tweets following Cristiano Ronaldo’s winning goal. “El Clásico” content featured across beIN SPORTS’ Facebook pages generated over 29.3 million impressions combined and 3.1 million video views with 1.6 million engaged users…

…ESPN’s Major League Baseball Opening Day was headlined by a 2.1 overnight rating for the New York Mets-Kansas City Royals World Series rematch on ESPN. It matched last year’s Cardinals/Cubs game on ESPN2 and was up 40% from Dodgers/Padres on ESPN in 2014 (1.5). The 2.1 is tied as the highest for Opening Night since Yankees/Red Sox in 2010 (2.4). Locally, the Royals’ win had a 26.4 rating in Kansas City — the highest on record for an MLB Opening Day game on ESPN/ESPN2 (dates back to 2001). In other action, Cardinals/Pirates drew a 1.4 overnight on ESPN and Blue Jays/Rays a 0.7 on ESPN2. (SportsMediaWatch)

… The NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES race from Martinsville, the first of the 2016 season to air live on FS1, scored 4,232,000 viewers according to Nielsen Media Research, up 4% from last year’s 4,061,000, making it the most-watched racing event and daytime telecast ever on FS1. The race was the ninth most-watched telecast in FS1 history and the most-watched since Game 6 of last year’s ALCS between Toronto and Kansas City. Among Adults18-49, it was up 7% over last year’s race (1,198,000 vs. 1,121,000). On FOX Sports GO, the telecast delivered 46,930 streams, 25,322 unique streamers and 1,853,642 minutes streamed.

Following the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, the NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES from Las Vegas delivered 1,292,000 viewers, making it the most-watched NHRA event since at least 2002 and more than double last year’s event on ESPN2 that aired in prime time (576,000). In the Adult 18-49 demographic, the NHRA race scored 354,000 viewers, a 213% increase over last year’s 113,000. FS1 was No. 1 across all cable networks in viewership and No. 2 across all cable and broadcast networks among A18-49 during Sunday’s motor sports coverage between 1:00 PM and 8:00 PM ET.

On Saturday, FS1 also scored viewership increases with the NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES from Martinsville (1,177,000; up 7%), MONSTER ENERGY SUPERCROSS from Santa Clara (239,000; up 42%) and the FIA FORMULA E CHAMPIONSHIP from Long Beach (189,000; up 73%). FS1 was No. 1 among all ad-supported cable sports networks during the Trucks race…

…Adrien Broner’s victory over Ashley Theophane delivered 1,013,000 viewers (10:36pm-11:21pm) on Friday, April 1, making it the most watched PBC fight in network history. The overall card delivered 873,000 viewers – also a record high for a PBC event on Spike.

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