Ratings Roundup: ESPN’s NBA Playoffs Up 5%; NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoffs Up 6%

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’s NBA Playoffs are up 5% and NBC’s NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs are up 6% over last year with the both league’s Conference Finals nearly concluded, NBC’s Sunday Night Football is officially the No. 1 primetime show for a record sixth consecutive year (tying American Idol’s run in the 2000’s), and it was a busy Saturday night for boxing with HBO, Showtime, and Fox entering the ring. 

ESPN’s NBA Playoffs Up 5% Over Last Year
The total live audience (television, plus streaming viewership) for the 2017 NBA Playoffs across ESPN and ABC was up 5% compared to 2016. The NBA Playoffs generated a total live audience of 4,488,000 average viewers, compared to 4,266,000 last year.

Lebron James’ Cavs are driving NBA Playoffs viewership

On television, the NBA Playoffs across ESPN and ABC generated 4,376,000 average viewers (p2+), up five percent from 4,176,000, in 2016. ESPN’s coverage of the NBA Playoffs also delivered a record average minute streaming audience. The games drew 112,000 average streaming viewers, up 24 percent from 90,000 viewers last season.

ABC’s most-watched NBA Playoffs opening weekend game ever – Golden State Warriors vs. Portland Trail Blazers Game 1 drew a total live audience of 6,624,000 viewers.

ESPN’s most-streamed NBA Playoffs opening weekend ever, generating an average minute audience of 91,800 viewers.

NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoffs Viewership Up 6% Over Last Year
Across all 77 games on NBC/NBCSN/CNBC/USA to date, the NBC Sports Group’s 2017 NHL Playoffs have averaged a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 1.096 million, up 6% from last year through the same point in the Playoffs (1.030 million; 82 games).

With just one home U.S. market, Tuesday’s Penguins-Senators Game 6 on NBCSN delivered a TAD of 1.868 million average viewers, up 2% vs. last year’s Lightning-Penguins Game 6 (1.825 million). NBCSN ranked as the No. 2 network on cable in primetime among the A-18-49 and A25-54 demos. Viewership peaked with nearly 2.5 million viewers in the game’s final full quarter hour (10:45-11 p.m. ET). Locally, the game produced a 23.9 rating in Pittsburgh, up 13% vs. last year’s Game 6 rating. Across all NBC Sports streaming platforms, Pens-Sens delivered the second-most live minutes ever for a Conference Final game (12.6 million), behind only last year’s Lightning-Penguins Game 7 (12.7 million).

The Predators’ series-clinching Game 6 win against Anaheim on Monday night on NBCSN produced a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 1.558 million average viewers, up 15% vs. the comparable series-clinching Game 5 last year between San Jose and St. Louis (1.358 million). Viewership peaked with more than 2.1 million viewers in the final quarter-hour (10:45-11 p.m. ET). Across all NBC Sports streaming platforms, Ducks-Predators delivered the third-most live minutes (11.8 million) for a Conference Finals game to date.

NBC’s SNF IS No. 1 Primetime Show for Record Sixth Straight Year
With the 2016-17 TV season wrapping up last night, NBC’s Sunday Night Football finished as primetime’s #1 TV show in all key metrics for a record sixth consecutive year (based on Nielsen live-plus-same-day data) – tying American Idol for the most consecutive years atop the charts (since 1950). Sunday Night Football also ranked as the No. 1 show in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demographic for the seventh consecutive TV season. SNF’s six-year run at the top marks the only six times on record that a sports series has been the highest-rated and most-watched show of the primetime TV season.

Sunday Night Football (2011-12 through 2016-17) is now tied with American Idol (2005-06 through 2010-11) as the only two shows to top the ratings charts for six consecutive years. The Cosby Show (1985-86 through 1989-90 – including a tie with Cheers in ‘89-90) and All in the Family (1971-72 through 1975-76) both had won five straight seasons, while Gunsmoke (1957-58 through 1960-61) had four.

Sunday Night Football’s 20.3 million average viewers bested all other 2016-17 primetime programs, including NBC Thursday Night Football’s (5 NBC/NFLN telecasts) 17.0 million, CBS Thursday Night Football’s (5 CBS/NFLN telecasts) 14.7 million, NCIS’s 14.6 million, and Big Bang Theory’s 14.0 million 

SNF’s Live + Same Day Viewership also topped rivals’ time shifted viewership, as SNF‘s 20.3 Live + Same Day average viewership topped Big Bang Theory‘s 19.1 (Live +7), NCIS‘s 18.5 million (Live +7), NBC/NFLN Thursday Night Football‘s 17.0 million (Live + Same Day), and The Walking Dead‘s 16.4 million (Live +7).

The Total Audience Delivery (TAD) for the 2016 Sunday Night Football season on NBC and NBC Sports Digital was 20.5 million viewers. NBC Sports Group’s Total Audience Delivery measures broader consumption by calculating average minute viewing across broadcast, cable, and digital.

For the 2016-17 primetime television season, Sunday Night Football ranked as the highest-rated (11.4 HH rating) and most-watched show (20.3 million TV-only viewers), and the No. 1 program among Adults 18-49 (7.0).

Since the beginning of the 2011-12 TV season, only nine primetime shows have averaged 20+ million viewers, all on NBC – Sunday Night Football six times, the 2012 London Summer Games, the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, and the 2016 Rio Summer Games (minimum 10 telecasts).

Only 25 primetime telecasts between Sept. 8, 2016 and May 23, 2017 averaged at least 20 million viewers – NBC’s Sunday Night Football, NBC/NFL Network Thursday Night Football and NBC NFL Playoff games accounted for 13 (excludes pre/postgames). SNF had 10, NFL Playoff games (two of which were on NBC) had five, and the World Series had three, while TNF, the CFP National Championship Game, NCAA Men’s Basketball Final, Academy Awards, Golden Globes, Grammy Awards, and 60 Minutes accounted for the rest.

HBO, Showtime, and Fox Enter Ring for Busy Saturday Night of Boxing
Terence Crawford vs. Felix Diaz on HBO Championship Boxing on Saturday night pulled in an average of 961,000 viewers with a peak of 1.036 million viewers for their fight at Madison Square Garden in New York. That was an increase of 19% for Crawford from his previous fight on HBO against John Molina Jr., which averaged 806,000 viewers last December. The fight marked HBO’s largest audience of the season, besting Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Jason Sosa, which drew an average viewership of 832,000 on April 8. In the co-feature bout on Saturday night, the lightweight Ray Beltran vs. Jonathan Maicelo averaged 687,000 viewers with a peak of 723,000 viewers…

…The same night Showtime Boxing’s WBC featherweight champion Gary Russell Jr. defending against Oscar Escandon at the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland. Russell-Escandon pulled in an average of 481,000 viewers on Showtime with a peak of 517,000 viewers. In the co-feature bout, Andre Dirrell vs. Jose Uzcategu averaged 354,000 viewers on Showtime with a peak of 459,000. The light welterweight contender between Rances Barthelemy and Kiryl Relikh had an average of 267,000 viewers with a peak of 295,000…

…Saturday’s coverage of Premier Boxing Champions on FS1 featuring unbeaten rising super middleweight contender David Benavidez knocking out former title challenger Rogelio “Porky” Medina in the eighth round averaged 364,000 viewers for the program to mark the most-watched PBC show on FS1 to date. (Boxing News 24, Cynopsis Sports, & Fightful)