Ratings Roundup: ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball Up 10% Over 2016; TNF Week 4 Draws 15.1M Viewers

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,Ratings for ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball franchise increased by 10 percent in 2017, theWeek 4 overnight for Thursday Night Football was up 6% over last year, we recap Week 3 of the NFL season and Week 4 of the college football season, Golf Channel posts its second-most watched Q3 ever, and a buzzerbeater in Game 3 of the WNBA Finals delivers a record overnight. 

ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball Ratings Up Double-Digits in 2017
Ratings for ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball franchise increased by 10 percent in 2017, compared to last year, according to Nielsen. Sunday Night Baseball averaged a 1.1 U.S. household rating across 26 telecasts, up from a 1.0 rating in 2016. Additionally, Sunday Night Baseball’s total live audience – p2+ viewership plus streaming – was up eight percent, averaging 1,762,000 viewers, compared to 1,625,000 viewers in 2016. ESPN also saw ratings growth for Sunday Night Baseball in multiple demos, including P18-34 (0.4 vs. 0.3), P18-49 (0.5 vs. 0.4) and M25-54 (0.8 vs. 0.7). (ESPN)

Week 4 TNF Draws 15.1 Million Viewers 
THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL on Thursday, September 28 featuring the Green Bay Packers beating the Chicago Bears 35-14 was seen on an average minute audience basis by 15.1 million viewers across all platforms, including CBS Television Network, NFL Network, Amazon Prime Video, NFL Digital and CBS digital platforms. The telecast on CBS and NFL Network was seen by an average of 14.6 million television viewers, up +3% (14.2 million for the same match-up in 2016) and earned a national household rating/share of 8.9/17, up from a 8.6/15 (Nielsen live plus same day national ratings). The average digital audience for the game across Amazon Prime Video, NFL Mobile from Verizon, Watch NFL Network, the NFL app on Microsoft, NFL Game Pass (International) and on CBS digital platforms was 488,000.

Television viewership of the Chicago-Green Bay game peaked at 16.6 million viewers with a rating/share of 10.0/18 from 9:00-9:16 PM, ET. TNF on CBS and NFL Network won in primetime, handily beating the other networks. CBS/NFL Network’s primetime viewership for Premiere Week Thursday Night of 14.0 million was +324% ahead of FOX (3.3 million), +115% ahead of NBC (6.5 million) and +109% ahead of ABC (6.7 million). In total, CBS and NFL Network’s coverage of the Chicago-Green Bay game was watched in all-or-part by 48.1 million viewers on television, with a minimum of one minute viewed. In total, 2.2 million viewers initiated a stream of THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL across all digital properties.

Amazon Prime Video reached a total of 1.9 million combined viewers worldwide for the NFL Thursday Night Kickoff pregame show and the Chicago-Green Bay game. For the THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL game alone, 1.6 million worldwide viewers initiated a stream on Amazon Prime Video. The average worldwide audience watching THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL for at least thirty seconds on Amazon Prime Video was 372,000, with each viewer watching an average of 55 minutes. (CBS/NFL)

Week 3 NFL Rating Recap
ESPN’s Monday Night Football game (Dallas Cowboys’ 28-17 victory over the Arizona Cardinals) averaged 13.8 million viewers across ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes, a 71% increase year-over-year for week 3. On ESPN, Cowboys-Cardinals averaged an 8.2 US household rating and 13,691,000 viewers. The game peaked during the 10:3010:45 p.m. ET quarter hour with a 9.1 US household rating and 15,325,000 viewers. Cowboys-Cardinals ranks as the second most-watched MNF game on ESPN in the last two seasons (behind only Lions-Cowboys on Dec. 26, 2016 with 18,605,000 viewers). On ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes, Cowboys-Cardinals averaged an additional 152,000 viewers – 96,000 viewers on ESPN Deportes and 56,000 on ESPN2, making it the most-watched Spanish-language MNF game on ESPN networks since 2013. Through three weeks (four games), ESPN’s MNF viewership is averaging 11,887,000 viewers, a 10 percent increase through week 3 a year ago (10,842,000). (ESPN)…

…NBC Sunday Night Football (a Washington blowout over Oakland) earned a 10.1 rating and 17.478 million viewers on SNF over the weekend, down 14% in ratings and 15% in viewership from Bears-Cowboys last year (11.7, 20.6M) and the lowest-rated Week 3 edition of SNF since 2006 (Broncos-Patriots, 10.0). Including streaming viewership on NBC and NFL digital platforms, the game had 17.6 million viewers — still down 15% from last year (20.7M) and the least-watched SNF game in Week 3 since 2009. (SMW)…


…CBS’s Week 3 NFL national window (Bengals-Packers in 80% of markets) had a 12.2 rating and 21.3 million viewers, down 3% in both measures from last year (Steelers-Eagles, 12.6, 22.0M). It was the lowest rated and least-watched Week 3 national window since 2009 — which also featured the Bengals (10.9, 18.2M). Earlier in the day, regional action pulled an 8.4 and 14.4 million — up 5% in ratings and 10% in viewership from last year (8.0, 13.1M). (SMW)…

…Fox’s Week 3 NFL singleheader window (Giants-Eagles in 41% of markets or Seahawks-Titans in 27%), had a 9.2 rating and 15.4 million viewers on FOX Sunday — down 17% in ratings and 19% in viewership from last year (11.1, 19.2M). It was the lowest rated and least-watched Week 3 singleheader since 2008 (8.7, 14.0M). Despite the lower numbers, it was also the highest rated and most-watched NFL singleheader of the young season. (SMW)…

For more in depth coverage of the NFL’s Week 3 ratings, check out SportsMediaWatch.com.

Week 4 College Football Ratings Recap
ABC’s Saturday Night Football is averaging a total live audience of 7,805,000 viewers a game, up 49% from last season’s first four weeks and 150% higher than FOX’ four-week TV-only prime-time audience. ABC’s Saturday Night Football featuring Penn State at Iowa (7:30 p.m. ET) delivered a total live audience of 5,341,000 viewers, up 40% from last season’s week 4 SNF game (Stanford at UCLA) and 55% higher than Fox’ TV-only audience for Notre Dame at Michigan State. ABC’s regionalized action, NC State at Florida State and Texas Tech at Houston (noon), generated a total live audience of 3,850,000 viewers, the most-watched noon game window of the season and the second most-watched telecast of the week across all networks. The viewership was up 48% from last year’s comparable window (Florida State at South Florida). (ESPN)…

…ESPN and ESPN2 combined to televise the five most-watched cable games of the week, led by Mississippi State at Georgia (2,897,000 TV + streaming viewers). Texas A&M vs. Arkansas (noon) and TCU at Oklahoma State’s (3:30 p.m.) total live audiences – 2,708,000 viewers and 2,574,000 viewers, respectively  –  are cable’s best non-primetime audiences of the season. UCLA at Stanford (10:30 p.m.) total live audience of 1,677,000 viewers beat FS1 in the late window by 60%. Virginia at Boise State had a total live audience of 1,324,000 viewers on ESPN2 (Friday, Sept. 22). (ESPN)…

…Alabama-Vanderbilt drew a 1.9 rating and 3.0 million viewers on the SEC on CBS last weekend, down 42% in ratings and 46% in viewership from Florida-Tennessee last year (3.3, 5.5M). The 1.9 rating is the lowest for an Alabama game on CBS since at least 2008. (SMW)…

…In the first Big Ten conference game ever on Fox Sports, Michigan-Purdue delivered a 2.2 rating and 3.52 million viewers on FOX Saturday — up 29% in ratings and 27% in viewership from TCU-Texas Tech in 2015 (1.7, 2.8M). In primetime, Notre Dame-Michigan State pulled a 2.1 and 3.46 million — up 91% in ratings and 98% in viewership from a delayed Oklahoma State-Baylor game last year (1.1, 1.7M). On Fox Sports 1, Oklahoma-Baylor had a 0.7 and 1.3 million and Washington-Colorado a 0.6 and 1.0 million.The previous night, Utah-Arizona drew a 0.35 and 581,000 (-44%). (SMW)…

Golf Channel Posts Second-Most Watched Third Quarter Ever 
Golf Channel posted its second most-watched third quarter on record after drawing 116,000 average viewers in Total Day, up 2% vs. 2015. Trailing 2016 with golf’s inclusion in the Rio Olympics, 2017’s third quarter was down 3% YOY and up 5% YOY when excluding Olympic content. Golf Channel also continued the network’s run in drawing the most-affluent audience in all of television in both Total Day and Primetime.

Golf Channel Digital already has posted its highest quarter of streaming consumption ever with third quarter through Wed., Sept. 27 drawing a total of 171.2 million minutes (with an additional three days of streaming the 2017 Presidents Cup still to come in Golf Channel Digital’s third quarter). Third quarter is currently up 16% vs. 2016 third quarter in total live minutes streamed, which includes 2016 Rio Olympics content (up 58% vs. 2016 excluding Olympic content). (Golf Channel)

Buzzer-Beater WNBA Finals Game 1 Delivers Best Overnight Ever
Game 1 of the 2017 WNBA Finals, which aired Sunday, Sept. 24, on ABC delivered a 0.6 overnight rating, the best overnight ever for a Game 1 on the ESPN networks. The matchup between the Minnesota Lynx and the Los Angeles Sparks resulted in a +20% increase from last year’s Game 1. The top five markets were: Nashville (4.6); Minneapolis (1.9); Birmingham (1.2); Hartford-New Haven (1.3); and Knoxville (1.1). Los Angeles delivered a 0.7 metered market rating. (ESPN)

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