Ratings Roundup: NBCUniversal Has Best February Ever Despite Ratings Decrease From Sochi, CBS’ PGA Coverage Hits Six-Year High

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 edition, NBCUniversal touts “Best February Ever,” buoyed by NBCSH’s highly numbers ever, despite lower hockey numbers and the total viewership number down from Sochi. Discovery Communications makes a successful splash in its first Olympics broadcast, ESPN sees rating highs for two shows, the NHL trade deadline sees TSN draw close to two million viewers, CBS’ PGA coverage sees a five year high, and the YES Network has its highest viewed spring training game ever.

Thanks to both the Super Bowl and Winter Olympics, NBCUniversal had its best February ever. NBCU’s average primetime television viewership for both the Super Bowl and Winter Games coverage, which was 26.9 million viewers through Feb. 22, nearly tripled the combined total of the other broadcast networks.

Since Super Bowl Sunday, more than 229 million Americans tuned into the networks of NBCUniversal – far surpassing all other media companies. Millions more streamed the action live on NBCSports.com, NBCOlympics.com, and the NBC Sports app, while even more experienced the events on a multitude of social media platforms.

NBC’s best February began on the 4th with the Philadelphia Eagles’ win over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII and four days later, coverage began of the the opening ceremony of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, a first. NBC’s Super Bowl LII coverage posted a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 118.2 million viewers – which will easily rank as year’s most-watched & most-dominant program, more than doubling the #2 show.

The PyeongChang Olympics delivered a Total Audience Delivery average of 20.6 million primetime viewers – a figure unmatched by any TV show (minimum three episodes) from Jan. 1 through the May end of the TV season in four years.

Helping out the Olympic ratings was Team USA’s thrilling shootout victory over Canada in the women’s hockey gold medal game on Wednesday ranks as the most watched late-night program in NBCSN history. The hockey game registered a Total Audience Delivery average of 3.7 million viewers, which included a live NBC simulcast of overtime and the shootout, as well as live streaming by NBC Sports Digital. The NBCSN-only telecast delivered 2.9 million viewers, which is the largest audience ever for the network in the 11 p.m.-2:15 a.m. ET late-night window. In addition, more than 525,000 uniques watched the live stream of the U.S.-Canada women’s gold medal game to rank as NBC Sports Digital’s fifth-largest hockey audience ever.

The biggest victor from the Winter Olympics was NBCSN, which according to Nielsen, NBCSN saw an increase of 646,000 homes following its PyeongChang coverage. NBCSN also presented live Premier League and NHL games and studio shows, a Super Bowl post-game show as well as rugby, track & field, and college hockey and basketball in February. NBCSN also posted the network’s record monthly primetime audiences, an average of 1.27 million viewers and Total Day (753,000 viewers) while ranked as the number one sports cable network in both metrics for the month from Jan. 29 to Feb. 25.

NBC’s numbers for February were the highest despite the total Olympic viewer being down 7% from the Sochi Winter Games, according to TV News Check.  The article cites a Nielsen report that says the NBC-only broadcast numbers were down 17% from Sochi. In an article from Variety, the reason for the downtread is attributed to the lack of streaming options that weren’t available during Sochi.

Another big reason for the down ratings was the lack of interest in men’s hockey, which was based on the lack of NHL players playing in the Olympics, according to the New York Times. In the article, NBC said that 2.9 million viewers watched the gold medal game between Germany and the O.A.R. while the last gold medal game in Sochi had 4.9 million watching.

In other Olympic ratings news, Discovery Communications was quite happy with  how many viewers watched in their first Olympics as European broadcasters.  58% of the population watched in Discovery’s top ten markets on its own channels,and those of its partner broadcasters  with a record breaking over 90% TV audience share in Sweden and Norway. Discovery and partner Eurosport’s digital and social platforms reach a record 76 million, more than double the average number of users.

ESPN Sees Record February For First Take, Record High For Carabao Cup Final
Having a month with both the Super Bowl, the Winter Olympics and the NBA All-Star Game was also a ratings blockbuster for ESPN and one of their signature shows, First Take. The show, hosted by Molly Qerim and featuring Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman, had its most-viewed February ever, across multiple demos including viewers P2+, M18-49, M25-29, P18-34 and P18-49, including a 16% overall audience gain over the previous year, averaging 499,000 viewers.

In addition, First Take grew its audience across three key demos from this time last year: females (F2+), up 34%; P25-34, up 9% and young men (M18-34), up 2%.

This year’s Carabao Cup final on Feb. 25 and shown on ESPN averaged 789,000 viewers across ESPN and ESPN Deportes, which is up 50% compared to the 526,000 viewers who watched last year’s final.

Sunday’s telecast marked the first English Football League final on an ESPN network in the United States and the English-language telecast delivered 672,000 average viewers on ESPN, nearly three times the audience for last year’s final. The game on ESPN Deportes delivered an average audience of 117,000 Hispanic viewers, with 69% of the viewers between the ages of 18 and 49.

TSN Reaches 1.8 Million Viewers For 2018 Trade Deadline Coverage
During its 10-hour coverage of the NHL trade coverage, Canada’s TSN had a total viewership number of 1.8 million viewers, with an average number of 159,000 viewers, which was more than double of its closest competitor  for viewers 25-54 and grew its 18-34 audience by 24% compared to last year.

TSN also led the conversation across the network’s digital and social platforms with  6.5 million TRADECENTRE-related impressions on Instagram and TSN’s digital and social media platforms reached 1.3 million video views throughout the day. TSN.ca saw an 11% increase in desktop page views from last year and Trade Tracker was the most-viewed page on TSN.ca, close to doubling the page views of 2017.

CBS Sports’ Final Round Coverage of Honda Classic Is Highest in Six Years
CBS Sports’ final-round coverage of the PGA Tour’s The Honda Classic on Feb. 25, was the most-watched in six years, averaging 4.0 million viewers, up 43% from last year, which was shown by NBCUniversal.

CBS Sports’ 2018 coverage of the PGA Tour is delivering the highest viewership and rating numbers in five years to date, averaging 3.3 million viewers, up 14%, and a national household rating/share of 2.1/5, up 11% from last year’s first four PGA Tour events.

YES Scores Highest-Rated Weekday Afternoon Spring Training Game
The Tigers-Yankees game on Feb. 23, the first spring-training game of the year for the Yankees, was the YES Network’s highest-rated, most-watched and most-viewed weekday afternoon spring training telecast ever. The telecast did a 1.36 average TV household rating in New York, averaging 96,000 households and 120,000 total viewers, with more than 235,000 unduplicated viewers in the New York DMA watched all or part of the game.

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