Ratings Roundup: Duke-UNC is Most-Watched Men’s Hoops Game of Season; Showtime Boxing on CBS Delivers Knockout

Ratings roundup is a rundown of ratings news from the past week and is derived from press releases and reports around the industry. In this week’s edition, ESPN ends the college basketball regular season on a high note with Duke-UNC, Showtime Boxing sees big numbers on for CBS for Thurman vs. Garcia, ESPN kicks of the MLS season with a big audience, and more. 

Duke at North Carolina (ESPN at 8:15 p.m. ET on March 4, 2017) delivered a total live audience (TV + streaming) of 4,164,000 viewers, the most-watched regular season college basketball game in the last two seasons on any network. ESPN’s viewership for the game was up 28% from last season’s Blue Devils-Tar Heels March matchup (March 5, 2016) and set a new streaming record.  This is the third consecutive season a game between the classic rivals has been college basketball’s most-watched game of the year.

ESPN’s men’s TV schedule (approx. 620 games) across ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU reached 107,134,000 viewers this season. Also, in addition to the being the only network to surpass four million viewers for a game this season, ESPN aired three of the four most-watched games of the season on any network. CBS’s 3,624,000 (not including streaming) for Kentucky at North Carolina on Dec. 17, 2016 was second, followed by two ESPN games: 3,426,000 for Kansas at Kentucky on Jan. 28, 2017, and 3,184,000 for North Carolina at Duke on Feb 9, 2017

ESPN’s Saturday night slate, featuring games at 6:15 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. most weeks, averaged 1,932,000 viewers** (13 games), up 8% from last season’s similar package (12 games).

ESPN’s mid-week telecasts on Tuesdays and Thursdays both saw audience increases, with SuperTuesday night telecasts (18 games) averaging 1,213,000 viewers and Thursdays (16 games) 981,000** viewers, both up 6% from last year’s same nights.

ESPN’s slate of marquee games, played on various days and start times throughout the year (14 games), averaged 2,314,000 viewers** this season.

College GameDay Covered by State Farm (Saturdays at 11 a.m. on ESPN) averaged 640,000 viewers**, an increase from last year’s same seven show slate.

ESPN’s college basketball telecasts in Louisville averaged a 5.5 local rating, making it the highest-rated local market for the 15th consecutive year and every year since ESPN began tracking the data. The market’s 5.5 rating is up 12% from last year.  Raleigh-Durham and Kansas City finished second and third, respectively, for the second consecutive year.

ESPN and ESPN2 each equaled last season’s average rating per game. ESPN televised 121 games this season and ESPN2 aired 216 games, both increases from last year (119 and 213 games, respectively).

College basketball fans streamed more than 911,000,000 minutes of college basketball content on ESPN’s platforms this season***, a 22% increase from last season. Additionally, in its 1,800 game slate from 24 conferences, ESPN saw its streaming average minute audience per game grow by 8% this season…

…The peak audience for Saturday’s SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING ON CBS broadcast of Thurman vs. Garcia reached 5.1 million viewers, the largest audience for a primetime boxing broadcast since 1998 and up 30 percent over last June’s SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING ON CBS primetime broadcast of Thurman vs. Porter.  Last Saturday’s peak audience came during the final round of the 12-round main event bout. The peak audience was the second highest for boxing on broadcast television since 1998 (including non-primetime), behind only August 2016’s Premier Boxing Champions Errol Spence Jr. vs. Leonard Bundu event on NBC which aired immediately following coverage of the men’s gold medal basketball game at the Rio Olympics.  The peak audience for that boxing program came in the opening minutes of the broadcast.

The average viewership for the main event of Saturday’s SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING ON CBS broadcast was 3.74 million viewers, up 19 percent over June’s Thurman vs. Porter main event average.  The average viewership for Saturday’s entire broadcast (from 9p – 11:15p ET), which included the co-feature of Erickson Lubin vs. Jorge Coda, was 3.1 million viewers, ranking as the third most watched live boxing event on broadcast television since 1998.  The broadcast average was 83 percent higher than Saturday’s NBA Primetime Game on ABC (L.A. Clippers vs. Chicago Bulls; 1.7 million).  The only boxing broadcasts with higher average viewership were the Aug. 2016 Spence Jr. vs. Bundu broadcast and the anticipated debut of Premier Boxing Champions, Thurman vs. Guerrero in 2015…

…ESPN’s season-opening Major League Soccer telecast on Sunday – Orlando City SC vs. New York City FC in the first match at Orlando’s new downtown stadium – averaged 411,000 viewers, up 14 percent compared to the Portland-Columbus opener in 2016 (362,000 viewers). Additionally, the 2017 MLS season-opening match delivered significant increases across key male demos: The telecast averaged 50,000 Hispanic viewers (P2+) on ESPN, up 95 percent; Averaged 84,000 viewers among M18-34, up 50 percent; Delivered average audience of 160,000 among M18-49, a 23 percent increase vs. 2016; Averaged 156,000 viewers among M25-54, up 16 percent.

 Streaming on WatchESPN and the ESPN App, the match had an average minute audience of 18,000 with a combined 2.8 million total minutes, increases of 25 percent and 26 percent, respectively, compared to the 2016 opener.
The total live audience (TV and streaming) average of 430,000 viewers represents a 14 percent gain from last year. In 2017, live streaming provided a 4.5 percent lift to the audience, up from 4.1 in 2016…
…The Univision Deportes Network is off to its strongest start ever and has recorded its fourth straight year of growth during the first two months of the calendar year. UDN’s Liga MX coverage is averaging 398,000 Persons 2+ and 236,000 Adults 18-49 in the Mexican soccer league’s current Clausura 2017 season, improving 8% and 6% over year ago…

…Monday’s season premiere of the seventh season of Feherty, featuring Phil Mickelson, earned a .31 overnight rating, matching the highest overnight rating ever for a Feherty season premiere. That’s up 35% over the season 6 premiere in 2016…

…BTN earned an 11% rise in household delivery in its primary markets during the 2016-2017 men’s basketball season, led by 22% growth in its Super Wednesday doubleheaders. BTN also notched six of the top 10 conference games in network history this season…



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