Ratings Roundup: AL Wild Card Game Up on ESPN, But NL Game Down on TBS

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, The AL Wild Card Game was up on ESPN but the NL game was down on TBS; the NHL opens up on NBCSN; The Thursday Night Football Week 5 overnight is up over 2016; we recap Week 4 of the NFL season and week 5 of the CFB season ratings; the WNBA Finals pulls in a big audience for its finale; the MLB on FOX regular season ties a record low; YES’s Yankees local ratings are way up, but the Cardinals are way down on Fox Sports Midwest; and more. 

MLB Wild Card Game Ratings: AL Up, NL Down,
Tuesday’s Twins-Yankees American League Wild Card earned a 4.2 rating and 6.7 million viewers on ESPN, up 62% in ratings and 60% in viewership from Orioles-Blue Jays on TBS last year (2.6, 4.2M) (ESPN’s figures include streaming viewership; the TBS numbers do not). Compared to last year’s National League Wild Card on ESPN, Giants-Mets in the National League, ratings fell 7% from 4.5 and viewership 13% from 7.71 million. (SMW)

Wednesday’s Rockies-Diamondbacks National League Wild Card Game earned  2.6 rating and 4.4 million viewers on TBS, down 42% in ratings and 41% in viewership from Giants-Mets on ESPN last year (4.5, 7.4M). Compared to last year’s Wild Card game on TBS, Orioles-Blue Jays in the American League, ratings were flat and viewership increased 5% from 4.2 million. (SMW)

NHL Opens Up on NBCSN
 opening night on NBCSN, featuring, Blues/Penguins and Flyers/Sharks, scored a Total Audience Delivery of 701,000 viewers – the second best ever on the network for an opener. Blue/Penguins produced a TAD of 904,000 viewers (peaking with 997,000 during the 930-945 p.m. ET quarter hour), marking the 6th most-watched regular-season NHL game ever on the network. The game was most-streamed NHL regular season game EVER with records in uniques (80k), average min audience (31.7k), and live minutes (5 mil). However the 0.50 rating and 872,000 viewers (TV only) on NBCSN were down 6% in ratings and 4% in viewership from Blues-Blackhawks last year (0.53, 905K). (NBC Sports PR/Twitter)

Meanwhile, Flyers/Sharks was NBCSN’s third most-watched regular-season late game of a doubleheader, producing a TAD of 477,000 viewers. (NBC Sports PR/Twitter)

Thursday Night Football Week 5 Up 28% Over Last Year
THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL on Thursday, October 5 featuring the New England Patriots beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 5 was seen on an average minute audience basis by 16.0 million viewers across all platforms, including CBS Television Network, NFL Network, Amazon Prime Video, NFL Digital and CBS digital platforms.

Last night’s telecast on CBS and NFL Network delivered a 28% increase in viewership from last year’s comparable Week 5 game. The New England-Tampa Bay game was seen by an average of 15.434 million television viewers (12.073 million for Arizona-San Francisco; 10/06/16), according to Nielsen live plus same day national ratings. Television viewership of the New England-Tampa Bay game peaked at 17.575 million viewers from 9:30-10:00 PM, ET. TNF on CBS and NFL Network won in primetime, handily beating the other networks. CBS/NFL Network’s primetime viewership for Thursday Night of 14.285 million was +350% ahead of FOX (3.172 million), +169% ahead of NBC (5.309 million) and+146% ahead of ABC (5.818 million).

The average digital audience for last night’s THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL 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 525,000. In total, 2.1 million viewers initiated a stream of THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL across all digital properties. Amazon Prime Video reached a total of 1.7 million combined viewers worldwide for the NFL Thursday Night Kickoff pregame show and the New England-Tampa Bay game. For the THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL game alone, 1.5 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 391,000 with each viewer watching an average of 50 minutes. (CBS/NFL)

Week 4 NFL Ratings Recap
On ESPN’s Monday Night Football game – a Kansas City Chiefs’ 29-20 victory over the Washington Redskins – averaged 12.1 million viewers across ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes.  On ESPN, Redskins-Chiefs averaged a 7.3 US household rating and 11.9 million viewers (down 9% in ratings and 11% in viewership from 8.0 and 13.5M for Giants-Vikings last year). The game peaked during the 11:30-11:45 p.m. ET quarter hour with an 8.4 US household rating and 13.6 million viewers. On ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes, Redskins-Chiefs averaged an additional 129,000 viewers – 61,000 on ESPN Deportes and 68,000 on ESPN2. Through four weeks (five games), ESPN’s MNF viewership is averaging 11.9 million viewers, a 5% increase through week 4 a year ago (11.3 million). (ESPN)…

ON NBC’s Sunday Night Football, Colts-Seahawks delivered a 9.6 rating and 16.7 million viewers, down 7% in ratings and viewership from Chiefs-Steelers last year (10.3, 18.1M), as well as the lowest rated and least-watched Week 4 edition of SNF since Eagles-Giants 10 years ago (9.4, 15.0M). (SMW)

The NFL on Fox window on Sunday (featuring either Rams-Cowboys or Panthers-Patriots in 49% of markets) earned an 11.5 rating and 20.1 million viewers on FOX Sunday — up 22% in ratings and viewership from last year (9.4, 16.4M), as well as the top singleheader of the season. (SMW)

The NFL on CBS national window on Sunday (Raiders-Broncos) had a 9.1 rating and 15.6 million viewers, down 31% in ratings and viewership from last year (13.1, 22.7M) and posting the steepest declines of any NFL window this season. Earlier in the day, CBS earned a 7.0 and 11.7 million for its early game — up 4% in ratings and viewership from last year (6.7, 11.2M). (SMW)

For much more in-depth coverage of the Week 4 NFL Ratings, check out SportsMediaWatch.com.

Week 5 College Football Ratings Recap
ABC’s Saturday Night Football featuring Clemson at Virginia Tech (8 p.m.) delivered a total live audience of 4,693,000 viewers, beating Fox’ TV-only prime time audience by 75% and helping ABC win the night among all broadcast networks across households, viewers and all key male and adult demos (M18-34, M18-49, M25-54, P18-34, P18-49 and P25-54). SNF has aired the most-watched prime time game each of the five weeks of the season and, in four of the five weeks, the most-viewed game overall and the average audience is 137% greater than Fox’s prime time audience. (ESPN)

On cable, ESPN televised the six most watched games. ESPN’s prime time telecast featuring Ole Miss at Alabama (9 p.m.) averaged a Nielsen total live audience of 3,028,000 viewers, most-watched game on cable in week 5. The audience for Alabama’s lopsided victory was up 195% from the network’s late night game last season (Arizona at UCLA, 10:30 p.m.). Earlier in the day, Vanderbilt at Florida (noon, ESPN) delivered a Nielsen Total Audience of 2,815,000 live television viewers, ESPN’s most-watched afternoon game this season. Additionally, the SEC East contest was up 34% from last year’s comparable game (Notre Dame at Syracuse). On Friday, USC at Washington State (10:30 p.m.) earned a Nielsen Total Audience of 2,776,000 live television viewers, the seventh most-watched game on cable this season. The Trojans-Cougars followed Miami and Duke (7 p.m.), which earned a Nielsen Total  Audience of 1,709,000 live television viewers. The two games on ESPN outdrew  FS1’s single game telecast  by 159% and 60%, respectively. In addition, Florida State at Wake Forest (3:30 p.m.) and Northwestern at Wisconsin (noon) earned a total live audience of 2,955,000 viewers and 2,890,000 viewers, respectively. (ESPN)

Georgia-Tennessee had a 2.4 rating and 4.0 million viewers on CBS Saturday, down 1% in ratings and 6% in viewership from the same matchup last year. All four SEC on CBS telecasts have declined from last year. (SMW)

FOX earned a 1.6 rating and 2.7 million viewers for last Saturday’s Oklahoma State-Texas Tech college football game, up 78% in ratings and 84% in viewership from Arizona State-USC last year (0.9, 1.5M). Earlier in the day, Iowa-Michigan State had a 1.5 (+15%) and 2.5 million (+23%). Friday’s Nebraska-Illinois game on FS1 had a 0.55 rating and 1.1 million viewers, the network’s third-largest audience of the season. (SMW)
Last Saturday’s Miami (Ohio)-Notre Dame game had a 0.49 rating and 798,000 viewers on NBCSN, marking the lowest rated and least-watched Notre Dame game on any network since at least 2008. (SMW)

Lynx-Sparks Championship Thriller Is ESPN/ABC’s Fifth Most-Viewed WNBA Playoff Game Ever
The Minnesota Lynx won their fourth WNBA Championship on Wednesday, and the ESPN audience (including most of the streaming audience) – an average of 902,000 viewers (P2+) – is the fifth most all time among the 230 WNBA playoff games ESPN/ESPN2/ABC have aired since the league was born in 1997.  The most-watched playoff game is Game 2 of the 1998 WNBA Finals between the Houston Comets and the Phoenix Mercury – an average of 1,371,000 viewers. The series averaged 559,000 viewers across ABC (game), ESPN (two games) and ESPN2 (two games), up 15% over last year and is the third-most viewed final series aired on ESPN networks (ESPN has aired the WNBA Finals exclusively since 2003).  The higher two:  2003 – Detroit/L.A., 842,000 viewers, and 2014 – Chicago/Phoenix, 634,000. (ESPN)

MLB on FOX Regular Season Ties Record Low, But RSN Were Up 5%
The MLB regular season averaged a 1.3 rating and 2.1 million viewers on the FOX broadcast network, flat in ratings and up 2% in viewership from last year (1.3, 2.0M). The 1.3 rating ties last year and 2014 as the lowest ever for an MLB season on broadcast television. (SMW)

The FOX Sports Regional Networks’ 2017 MLB season was up 5% in household ratings over last season (3.25 HH vs. 3.09 HH) – with eight of the network’s MLB teams garnering year-to-year household ratings increases. The FOX Sports RSNs group not only featured the three highest-rated MLB teams for the 2017 season – highlighted by the Indians (8.33 HH rating), Royals (8.00 HH rating) and Cardinals (7.18 HH rating) – but FOX Sports RSNS delivered the five largest year-to-year percentage ratings increases in all of MLB: Yankees (+57%), Braves (+54%), Brewers (+35%), Diamondbacks (+29%) and Indians (+28%). In addition, baseball as a whole dominated prime time viewing as twelve RSN MLB teams ranked #1 in their market, beating the primetime average of all other TV networks in their respective DMAs – with six of those teams featured on FOX Sports RSNs (Indians, Royals, Cardinals, Tigers, Yankees and Diamondbacks).  (Fox)

YES Network’s’ Yankees Ratings up 57%
Average TV Household ratings for the YES Network’s 2017 regular season New York Yankees telecasts were 57% higher than YES’ 2016 Yankees ratings, and were the network’s best Yankees game ratings in five years.  In addition, YES’ Primetime Yankees game telecasts out-rated all other broadcast and cable networks’ Primetime schedules in the New York DMA on nights when YES televised Yankees games. YES’ Yankees games averaged a 3.57 TV Household rating this season, up 57% from the 2.28 average rating from 2016; the 3.57 average rating is YES’ best Yankees season rating since 2012. YES’ Primetime Yankees game telecasts were #1 in the New York DMA on nights when YES televised Yankees games, besting all other broadcast and cable networks’ Primetime schedules in average TV Household rating, Total Households, Total Viewers, and in key demos such as Males 18+, Males 18-34, Males 18-49 and Males 25-54

YES’ Yankees Batting Practice Today show ratings were up 114% year-over-year, its pre-game show ratings were up 61% year-over-year and its post-game ratings were up 57% year-over-year. YES’ Yankees pre-game and post-game show achieved seven-year and six-year ratings highs, respectively, and Yankees Batting Practice Today achieved its highest rating ever. 40 of YES’ Yankees telecasts this season generated an average TV Household rating of 4.0 or greater, compared to 0 in 2016, 10 in 2015, 14 in 2014 and 8 in 2013. Five million unduplicated Total Viewers in the New York DMA watched all or part of a Yankees game on YES game in 2017. YES’ 3.57 average TV Household rating for 2017 Yankees game telecasts is 29% greater than YES’ 2.77 average TV Household rating from 2015, the last season before 2017 that YES was available on Comcast systems. YES’ simulcasts of ESPN Radio’s The Michael Kay Show enjoyed its best overall delivery since YES launched the simulcast in 2014.

YES is on track to be the most-watched regional sports network (RSN) in the country for the 13th time in 15 years; the network finished as the most-watched RSN in the country through the end of the third quarter of the 2017 broadcast year in both Total Day and in Primetime. YES Network has reached more than 6.2 unduplicated Total Viewers in the New York DMA from the beginning of the 2017 broadcast year through the end of the 2017 MLB Regular Season

YES averaged 12 million video views per month this Yankees season on YES’ various digital platforms, a 173% year-over-year increase. YES delivered more than 1 million American League Wild Card-related video views. YES has more than 780,000 social media followers (more than 1.6 million when including talent accounts). (YES Network)

Cards TV Ratings Dip to Lowest Since 1999
A disappointing St. Louis Cardinals season resulted in the team’s worst rating this century (149 telecasts on Fox Sports Midwest) and a 12% drop from last year. The last time the figure was lower was in 1999, when the rating was 6.4, when 52 contests aired FSM and 55 on over-the-air KPLR-Channel 11 (an 11.7 rating for OTA broadcasts). This year marked the second consecutive season in which Fox Sports Midwest’s Cardinals rating declined, as ratings were down 18% from 2015 (totalling a 30% in two years) This season’s figure is 24 percent below the average rating (8.4) for each previous season dating to 2000. Nonetheless, FSM dominated St. Louis television in prime time on nights it showed the Cardinals, as 7.8 percent of homes with a TV in the market tuned in (KMOV-Channel 4 was a distant second with a 4.9 rating). (St. Louis Post-Dispatch).

Rockets/Thunder Delivers Six-Year Preseason High for NBA TV
 night’s NBA TV telecast featuring Rockets/Thunder averaged 343,000 viewers to rank as the network’s most-viewed preseason telecast since 2011. The telecast marked the team debuts of newly acquired NBA stars Paul George, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony. (Brett Dawson/Twitter)

ESPN’s First Take on the Road to Success in September
In September, ESPN’s First Take enjoyed a 31% increase in overall viewership over the previous year, averaging 461,000 viewers (P2+, Nielsen). Since First Take moved to ESPN on Jan. 3, the show’s audience (P2+) has increased 16% vs. the same time last year. In addition, First Take’s audience was triple that of Undisputed on FS1 – 461,000 vs. 150,000. The ESPN show’s advantage among men 18-34 was again nearly quadruple that of Undisputed with an average of 124,000 impressions vs. 32,000 for FS1. The top day for viewership this month was Labor Day (Monday, Sept. 4) with 796,000 viewers tuning in for an update on Ezekiel Elliot’s legal issues. Rounding out the top three days for the month showed fans turning to First Take for all-star guests. On Tuesday, Sept. 12, 672,000 fans tuned in to watch guests Magic Johnson and Snoop Dogg from Los Angeles and on Monday, Sept. 18, 548,000 fans tuned in to watch surprise guest Kyrie Irving in the studio discussing his trade request from Cleveland and not informing LeBron James. (ESPN)

UDN Highlights Big Q3 2017 Growth in Total Viewers, Adults 18-49
Univision Deportes Network (UDN), the No. 1 Spanish-language cable sports network, delivered exceptional primetime ratings and double-digit growth across key demos in Q3 2017. Year-over-year, Q3 2017 saw UDN up +50 percent among Total Viewers 2+ and +52 percent among Adults 18-49. For the fourth consecutive quarter, UDN is one of the top five most-watched sports networks, regardless of language, on primetime TV among Adults 18-49. This 3rd quarter saw UDN average 187,000 Total Viewers 2+ and 111,000 Adults 18-49, besting English-language competitors FOX Sports 1 and NBC Sports Network.

Driving the gains in Q3 is Univision Deportes broadcasting of Liga MX, the highly-rated soccer league in America, regardless of language. On UDN, telecast of Liga MX fútbol matches averaged 255,000 Total Viewers 2+ and 155,000 Adults 18-49, besting MLB on MLB Network by +14 percent and +167 percent, respectively.

MLS on Univision’s flagship channels – Univision and UniMás – averaged 310,000 Total Viewers 2+ and 156,000 Adults 18-49, up +24 percent and +16 percent from the prior year, respectively. This has been the best quarter ever for MLS fútbol viewership on Univision Networks; in fact, Q3 2017 is on pace to be MLS’ most-viewed season ever on the leading Spanish-language networks. Additionally, telecast of MLS fútbol matches on Univision and UniMás have outperformed telecast of the MLS matches on FOX Sports 1 by double-digit margins among Total Viewers 2+ and Adults 18-49, as well as on ESPN by double-digit margins among Total Viewers 2+.

The September 17 Bundesliga face-off between Borussia Dortmund and 1. FC Köln on UniMás delivered 159,000 Total Viewers 2+ and 92,000 Adults 18-49, making it the most-viewed Bundesliga face-off, on any sports network, in Q3 2017.

Throughout 25 matches across 12 teams, broadcast of the 14th edition of CONCACAF Gold Cup reached over 29 million Total Viewers 2+ and 13 million Adults 18-49. Univision Deportes’ coverage garnered more than three-times the audience versus FOX’s broadcast of the tournament. Additionally, the tournament outperformed the Spanish-language broadcast of the FIFA Confederations Cup by +23% with Total Viewers 2+ and +26% with Adults 18-49. Across the networks of Univision, CONCACAF Gold Cup averaged 1.4 million Total Viewers 2+ and 766,000 Adults 18-49. Driven by the strong audience delivery of the tournament, UDN finished July as the No. 2 sports network, ahead of ESPN 2 and NBCSN; No. 4 year-to-date in primetime, ahead of FOX Sports 1.

In the third quarter of 2017 (June 26 – September 24, per Nielsen), ESPN led all full-time cable networks in total day and in prime-time delivery of the three key young male demographic groups, males age 18-34, 18-49 and 25-54. (Univision)

ESPN Continues to Lead Cable in Delivering Key Young Males for Advertisers
ESPN has been the No. 1 full-time cable network in the third quarter among those three important groups in both Total Day and Prime Time for 12 consecutive years (3Q06-3Q17). Looking at each quarter of the year, ESPN has now been the No. 1 full-time cable network among M18-34, M18-49, and M25-54 for 17 consecutive quarters (3Q 2013 – 3Q 2017).

Through the first five weeks of the season, ESPN/ABC have combined to air the top five (and seven of the top eight) most-watched CFB games this season across all networks. Additionally, ESPN and ESPN2 have combined to televise 19 of the 20 most-viewed games on cable.

Through week 3 (four games), ESPN’s Monday Night Football was up 10% in total impressions (P2+) vs. 2016. For the first three weeks of the season, MNF has helped ESPN win the night across all networks (both broadcast and cable) among HHs, viewers and all key male & adult demos.

Roger Federer’s return and strong performances from the American women helped the 2017 US Open’s Total Live Audience increase 8% to 968,000 across ESPN/ESPN2 vs. 2016. The all-American US Open Women’s Final averaged a Total Live Audience of 1.9 million, making it the most-viewed Women’s Final in ESPN history.

In addition, NBA Summer League, boxing, the Home Run Derby, and the Little League World series drove viewers in the demo to ESPN. Boosted by interest in the LA Lakers and Lonzo Ball, the 2017 NBA Summer was the most-watched Summer League ever across TV and Streaming. Across ESPN, ESPN2, and linear streaming, the 2017 Summer League averaged a Total Live Audience of 454K, up +54% vs. 2016. In the third quarter, ESPN had cable television’s three most-watched cable boxing telecasts of the year, with Pacquiao-Horn, the Pacquiao-Horn undercards, and Crawford-Indongo. The July 1 Pacquiao-Horn telecast averaged a 1.6 HH rating and 2,812,000 viewers, marking the highest-rated and most-watched boxing telecast on cable television since 2006 and ESPN’s highest-rated boxing telecast since 1995. The 2017 Home Run Derby was the most watched since 2009, and the Total Live Audience was up 55% from last year. The 2017 Little League World Series averaged a Total Live Audience of 783,000 across ESPN/ESPN2/ABC, up 12% year-over-year. (ESPN)


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