Ratings Roundup: NFL Week 2 Rundown, MLS Hits 12-Year High, Rams Fail to Catch on in L.A.

While NFL ratings are running behind 2015’s epic early season numbers (all ten windows on CBS, NBC and ESPN declined, while Fox has seen increases according to SportsMediaWatch), the NFL is still dominating the competitions through two weeks. Also in this week’s ratings roundup: college football numbers for Alabama-Ole Miss, Ohio State-Oklahoma, Michigan State-Notre Dame, and Florida State-Louisville; the MLS hits a 12-year viewership high with some help from the NFL; NBC sets Verizon IndyCar records and scores huge increases for the Rio Paralympics; and ESPN scores with its Rio Olympics coverage in Latin America. 

CBS and NFL Network’s telecast of THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL (Sept. 22) earned an average overnight household rating/share of 12.5/21, +5% from last year’s 11.9/20 for the second week of TNF, which featured Washington-New York Giants (9/24/15). Coverage of New England’s 27-0 victory over Houston on CBS and NFL Network dominated primetime ratings from 8:00-11:00 PM, ET, averaging a household rating/share of 11.5/20, up +2% from last year. Last night’s Thursday premiere week primetime average rating of 11.5/20 beat each of the broadcast networks:+283% better than FOX (3.0/5), +174% better than NBC (4.2/7), and +145% better than ABC (4.7/8).

NFL Week 2 Rundown
Last week’s Thursday Night Football game (New York Jets at the Buffalo Bills) was seen on an average minute audience basis by 15.7 million viewers across all platforms, including CBS Television Network, NFL Network, Twitter, NFL Digital and CBS Interactive. The game was seen by an average of 15.4 million television viewers on CBS and NFL Network, and earned an average national household rating/share of 9.5/18, according to Nielsen live plus same day national ratings. The game’s television rating was +20% from the average household rating (7.9 HH) for the 16 games of the 2015 THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL schedule on CBS and NFL Network (and over-the-air stations). Television viewership of the Jets-Bills game peaked at 16.4 million viewers with a HH rating/share of 10.1/18 from 9:00-9:30 PM, ET.

The 2015 THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL premiere on CBS and NFL Network, which featured Denver and Kansas City, earned a 12.9/24, which is the highest-rated THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL game ever. Primetime on CBS and NFL Network last night easily beat the combined viewership of NBC, ABC and FOX (14.3 million vs. 8.1 million; +77%). CBS/NFL Network’s viewership of 14.3 million in primetime was +550% better than FOX (2.2m), +393% better than NBC (2.9m) and +377% better than ABC (3.0m).

The average digital audience for THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL’s season opener across Twitter, NFL Mobile from Verizon, Watch NFL Network, NFL Game Pass (International) and authenticated users on CBS Digital platforms users was 314,000 with each viewer spending an average of 25 minutes watching the Jets defeat the Bills. In total, all digital properties showing THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL reached 2.4 million viewers. In total, Twitter reached 2.3 million combined worldwide viewers for the NFL THURSDAY NIGHT KICKOFFpregame show and the Jets/Bills game for a minimum of three seconds with that video being 100% in view. For the THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL game alone, Twitter reached 2.1 million viewers. The average audience watching THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL on Twitter properties was 243,000 with each viewer watching an average of 22 minutes of game action…

…Fox’s Week 2 NFL single-header (Dallas/Washington in 36% of markets and Seahawks/Rams in 26%) had an 11.0 final rating and 19.2 million viewers on FOX Sunday afternoon — up 12% in ratings and 15% in viewership from coverage on CBS last year (9.8, 16.7M) but down 3% and 1%, respectively, from 2014 on FOX (11.3, 19.4M). (SMW)…

…CBS’s Week 2 NFL national window, featuring Colts/Broncos in 74% of markets, earned a 12.2 final rating and 21.4 million viewers on CBS Sunday afternoon — down 21% in ratings and viewership from Cowboys/Eagles on FOX last year (15.5, 27.2M) and down 15% and 14%, respectively, from coverage featuring Chiefs/Broncos on CBS in 2014 (14.4, 24.9M). (SMW)…

…NBC’s The Week 2 Packers/Vikings Sunday Night Football game earned a 12.7 final rating and 22.8 million viewers on NBC, down 16% in ratings and 14% in viewership from Seahawks/Packers last year, the most-watched Week 2 primetime game since 1991 (15.1, 26.4M). Compared to Bears/49ers in 2014, ratings dropped 2% (from 12.9) but viewership increased 3% (from 22.2M). (SMW)

…This week’s ESPN Monday Night Football game (Philadelphia Eagles’ 29-14 victory over the Chicago Bears) earned a 7.3 final rating and 12.1 million viewers on ESPN, down 10% in ratings and 3% in viewership from Jets/Colts last year (8.1, 12.5M) and the lowest rating ever for MNF in Week 2 of the season (previously 7.7 for Washington/Philadelphia in 2007), according to SMW. Nonetheless, ESPN won the night among all networks (broadcast or cable) in households, viewers and all key male and adult demos for the second time in as many weeks. The MNF game ranked as the #1 telecast of the night among all key male demos and adults 18-34 and 18-49.

Eagles-Bears delivered a total live audience (TV + Streaming) of 12,468,000 average viewers. On TV (ESPN and ESPN Deportes), the game delivered 12,173,000 average viewers. On ESPN, the game averaged a 7.3 US household rating. ESPN’s streaming audience attracted an additional average minute audience of 295,000 viewers – the third-highest streaming audience ever for MNF (behind last week’s season-opening doubleheader games).

In Philadelphia, the game delivered a 16.2 rating on ESPN and a 13.4 on WPHL-IND, for a combined 29.6 rating in the market. In Chicago, the game delivered an 11.1 rating on ESPN and a 10.9 on WCIU-IND, for a combined 22.0 rating in the market. The game rating peaked on television from 9:30-9:45 p.m. with an 8.7 household rating and 14,480,000 viewers.

…The newly-minted Los Angeles Rams have yet to catch on their new city, while also struggling in their previous home. The team’s first regular-season game in the Los Angeles area since returning after a 21-year stint in St. Louis (a 9-3 Rams win televised on Fox) was was seen in just 12 percent of homes in that market with a TV. Only three times in their two-plus decades in St. Louis did the Rams have a lower rating. In St. Louis, the game, shown on KTVI (Channel 2), drew just 6.8 percent of St. Louis homes with a TV. That was the lowest rating of the four NFL games televised locally that day (St. Louis Post Dispatch)…

College Football Week 3 Rundown
CBS Sports’ SEC ON CBS matchup of No. 1-ranked Alabama beat No. 19 Ole Miss on Saturday was the top game of the weekend, earning a 5.0 final rating and 8.2 million viewers, up 92% in ratings and 93% in viewership from Auburn/LSU last year (2.6, 4.2M) and up 22% and 21%, respectively, from Georgia/South Carolina in 2014 (4.1, 6.8M). (SMW)…

…NBC Sports Michigan State/Notre Dame game earned a 2.9 final rating and 5.0 million viewers on NBC, marking the highest rated Notre Dame telecast on NBC since the two teams’ previous meeting in 2012 (3.2) and the most-watched since a triple-overtime game against Pittsburgh in 2012 (6.0M). (SMW)…

… ABC’s Florida State at Louisville game on Saturday earned a television audience of 6,216,000 average viewers, marking the largest audience for an early-season noon kickoff window since 2003 on an ESPN network and the second largest in 20 years (also up 146% from Air Force-Michigan State last year). The games 4.0 rating was up 135% from last year. The total live audience (TV + Streaming) of 6,376,000 average viewers was the second-most watched college football game across all networks in college football’s week 3 and up 148% over the comparable window last season (Air Force at Michigan State). ESPN’s stream of the Cardinals’ 63-20 win had an average minute audience of 160,000 viewers and a total of 679,000 unique viewers, a top 5 regular season game ever for ESPN streaming in both categories. Additionally, three of ESPN streaming’s top 5 most-watched regular season college football games have occurred in the first three weeks of this season – based on both average minute audience and unique viewers…

…Saturday’s Ohio State/Oklahoma college football game drew a 3.4 final rating and 5.8 million viewers on FOX, up 143% in ratings and 154% in viewership from California/Texas last year (1.4, 2.3M) and up 113% and 119%, respectively, from UCLA/Texas in 2014 (1.6, 2.6M). (SMW)

Powered by NFL, MLS Hits 12-Year High on Fox
FOX Sports’ split-national MLS broadcast on FOX delivered 1,298,000 viewers on Sunday, Sept. 18, making it the most-watched MLS telecast of any kind and on any network in 12 years. Sunday’s presentation featured two MLS matches airing live adjacent to regional NFL broadcasts as part of a joint MLS and NFL lineup (the first time in the MLS’s 21 seasons that a network partner televised games from two leagues on the same network at the same time). Regional Major League Soccer action featuring Toronto F.C./Red Bulls in 68% of markets earned a 0.8 final rating and 1.2 million viewers on FOX Sunday afternoon, marking the largest MLS audience on a single network since 2004.

NBC’s Verizon IndyCar Series Sets Total Viewership Record
NBC Sports Group delivered a second consecutive season of record-setting Verizon IndyCar Series viewership in 2016, reaching more than 6.5 million total viewers, its highest season-total since acquiring IndyCar rights in 2009. NBC Sports Group’s coverage of the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series averaged 488,000 viewers across 10 weekend races to rank as itssecond most-watched IndyCar season since 2009, trailing only last year’s record-setting average viewership (507,000).

This season also delivered NBC Sports Group’s most-watched IndyCar race ever, when NBCSN and CNBC’s simulcast of the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio averaged 929,000 viewers on July 31. Last Sunday’s finale at Sonoma on NBCSN (6:30-8:56 p.m. ET) averaged 536,000 viewers.

Digitally, the 2016 IndyCar season on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app delivered 6.7 million minutes streamed and 89,000 uniques, both NBC Sports Group IndyCar records.

Viewership in the Adult 18-49 demographic was up 7% vs. 2015 (123,000 vs. 115,000). 10 races in the last two seasons eclipsed 500,000 viewers, more than the past six seasons on NBCSN combined (five).

Indianapolis ranked as the No. 1 local market with a 2.38 rating.

Paralympics Way Up for NBC
NBC Olympics’ presentation of the 2016 Paralympic Games reached more than 7.8 million viewers on NBC and NBCSN, up 359 percent from NBC Olympics’ coverage of the 2012 London Games (1.7 million viewers and 5.5 hours). NBC Olympics’ primetime coverage of the Rio 2016 Paralympics averaged 143,000 viewers, up +175 percent from the London Paralympic Games (52,000 viewers).

Rio 2016: ESPN Tops Pay TV Ratings in Mexico, Central America
ESPN’s coverage of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games delivered strong ratings for the duration of the event (August 3-21) in Mexico and Central America, making it the highest-rated Pay TV Olympic transmission in the territory. The results represent an aggregation of the ratings for the ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN3 networks among M18+ in these markets. Throughout the Games, ESPN and ESPN2 in Mexico ranked among the top five cable networks while ESPN was the highest-rated cable network in Central America (M18+).

In Mexico and Central America, the ESPN network scored its two highest-rated weeks ever in Mexico and Central America. In Mexico, August 15-21 is at the top with a 1.6 household rating, followed by August 8-14 with a 1.5 household rating. In Central America, August 8-14 is at the top with a 1.5 household rating, followed by August 15-21 with a 1.3 household rating.

ESPN’s Rio 2016 coverage delivered the top 15 most-viewed days ever across ESPN networks in Mexico (ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN3), reaching 13.6 million total viewers. #YoRio – ESPN’s daily studio show – averaged a 1.15 household rating across 19 live telecasts on ESPN in Mexico. The show was among the top-rated programs on the network, comparable with top live events such as the 2015 MLB World Series (1.2 household rating) and the 2016 NBA Finals (1.1 household rating). The live telecast of the Opening Ceremony on ESPN in Mexico delivered a 1.9 household rating, ranking among the top ten highest-rated Olympic telecasts on ESPN.

Specific sports events that helped boost the networks’ ratings in Mexico include: A 3.1 household rating for the live telecast of Mexican diver German Sanchez’ silver medal performance (ESPN2,August 20, 2:27-4:37 p.m.); A 2.1 household rating for the women’s volleyball semi-finals between China and The Netherlands (ESPN, August 18, 9-10:22 p.m.); A 2.1 household rating for the men’s weightlifting final (August 7, ESPN2, 5:58-6:55 p.m.); and A 2.0 household rating for the Mexico vs. Fiji soccer match (August 7, ESPN2, 10:55 a.m.-1p.m.)

In Latin America, ESPN reached 56.7 million viewers during the Olympic Games across seven measured markets, including: Argentina, Brazil, Central America, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru. During the Olympic Games, ESPN delivered its three most-watched weeks in the history of the ESPN brand, makingAugust 8-14 the most-watched week ever. August 7 is ESPN’s most viewed day on record, reaching 15.5 million people across the seven measured markets.

Ratings Odds and Ends
NASCAR Sprint Cup racing from Chicagoland, the first race in the Chase For the Cup, posted a 1.6 final rating and 2.7 million viewers on NBCSN Sunday afternoon — down 16% in ratings and 17% in viewership from last year (1.9, 3.2M) and down 30% and 27%, respectively, from 2014 on ESPN (2.3, 3.7M).Excluding rainouts, the race ranks as the lowest rated and least-watched Chase For the Cup telecast ever (118 races dating back to 2004). (SMW)…

…The premiere of NESN’s David Ortiz: The Journey presented by Foxwoods Resort Casino on Friday, September 16 set a new NESN record for non-game coverage programming by receiving a 5.8 Household Rating in the Boston DMA. Over 230,000 people in the Boston DMA alone and an estimated 420,000 people throughout New England watched the debut of the 1-hour special, the first of two special NESN programs that celebrate and relive the historic career of Red Sox slugger David Ortiz (see attached press release from 9/6/16)…

…Bounce TV’s Premier Boxing Champions – The Next Round from Las Vegas (two airings on Friday night) combined to reach 1.3 million viewers for the channel. Male viewing was up by 19% in Men 25-54 and 10% in M18-49 versus the previous PBC on Bounce event in June…

…On Sept. 11, PBR on CBS scored 1.75 million total viewers to rank as the most-watched PBR telecast so far this season and the highest sports number outside of the NFL that day. Overall, viewership through the 12 telecasts this year is up 6%.

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