Ratings Roundup: Championship Week Brings High Ratings For ESPN; YES, Yankees Continue Record-Setting Spring
Ratings Roundup is a rundown of recent ratings news and is derived from press releases and reports around the industry. In this edition, ESPN see soaring ratings thanks to conference championships and the highest-rated cable boxing match so far this year, the first two days of March Madness ratings are in, the New York Yankees continue to set spring training ratings records, the PGA Tour sees it highest third-round ratings in over a decade, the Toronto Raptors recently had their highest-rated Canadian game ever and ratings continue to soar for the Nashville Predators.
Championship Week Brings High Ratings For ESPN
Championship week in the world of college basketball turned in a ratings boom for ESPN as the network had the most-watched conference quarterfinal, semifinal and championship games of any network showing conference tournaments, averaging 1.37 million viewers a game.
Leading the way ratings-wise for ESPN were the ACC, Big 12 and SEC championship games, with the battle for the ACC crown between UNC and Virginia drawing 3,435,000 viewers, making it the most-watched game of the entire conference championship week, according to Nielsen. 2,852,000 people watched West Virginia and Kansas play for the Big 12 title, the higher number in 16 years and the second most-watched Big 12 championship game ever while the SEC championship game between Kentucky and Tennessee was the highest-rated game on the Sunday of championship week with 2,553,000 people turning in to watch.
Between ESPN and ESPN2, the network aired the 20 most watched conference championship games along with the most watched 139 games overall, including the regular season.
It wasn’t just college basketball bring ratings heights to ESPN as its March 10 Top Rank on ESPN boxing telecast drew its highest ratings of the year so far as well as featuring two of the three top-rated cable boxing matches of the year so far. The main event which saw the undefeated Oscar Valdez successfully defend his WBO featherweight championship averaged a 0.7 metered market rating, while the co-main event featuring Andy Vences and Erick De Leon averaged a 0.8 metered market rating, according to Nielsen.
First Two Days OF NCAA Tournament Slightly Higher Than Last Year
The ratings for the first two full days of the NCAA tournament were releases with no real difference compared to last year’s numbers for the opening days.
According to SportsMediaWatch, the first half of the Thursday primetime games grossed 10.37 million viewers across CBS, TBS, TNT and TruTV, ever so slightly up from last year’s number of 10.32 million and only up 4% from 2016, which was 9.96 million. The heist rating of the day came from the Kentucky-Davidson game, which drew a 3.5 rating, with 5.9 million viewers tuning in, a 40% increase from last year.
The Friday numbers stayed just as level for the most part, save for the historic win by UMBC over Virginia on TNT, which got a 2.0 rating and drew 3.53 million viewers on TNT,a 49% ratings and 54% viewership increase from last year at that time slot, according to SportsMediaWatch. Those rating were offset, however, by the combined audiences of CBS, TBS, TNT and TruTV., which was only 9.6 million, down 1.1% from last year and 1.4% from 2016 .
New York Yankees, YES Network Continue Record Spring Training Ratings Run
Ratings-wise, the Yankees are currently on pace to have their highest-rated spring training in nine years and are just currently setting record rating after record rating.
The March 8 game against the Philadelphia Phillies was the highest-rated weekday afternoon spring training game in network history, with a 1.39 average HH rating, beating the record that the team set just six days prior.
The game was also the highest-rated sports telecast in New York that day, beating out the Golden State Warriors-San Antonio Spurs and Boston Celtics-Minnesota Timberwolves games on TNT, Duke-Notre Dame,North Carolina-Miami and Boston College-Clemson on ESPN, New York Rangers-Tampa Bay Lightning on MSG,Butler-Seton Hall and St. John’s-Xavier on FS1, New Jersey Devils-Winnipeg Jets on MSG+ and New York Islanders-Edmonton Oilers on MSG+2.
Two days later, against the cross-town rivals the New York Mets, the Yanks scored an average 2.57 TV household rating, making it the second-most watched spring training game in YES’ history as well as the highest-rated, most-watched and most-viewed live sports program on cable in the New York market since the NBA All-Star Game back on Feb. 18.
The PGA Scores Highest Ratings For A Saturday Round In Over A Decade, Continues Ratings Uptick
Driven by the sudden resurgence of Tiger Woods at last weekend’s Valspar Championship, NBC’s coverage scored high ratings, most notably the third round, which had an overnight rating 3.26, making it the highest-rated PGA Tour third-round telecast on any broadcast network since the 2006 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
The NBC-owned Golf Channel also show high ratings during their coverage of the event, with their third-round lead-in coverage earned a 1.07 overnight, which is the highest-rated Golf Channel telecast at this event on-record and since the 2013 Deutsche Bank Championship.
The streaming minutes numbers were also hgh as well for both Golf Channel Digital as well as NBC Sports Digital, as by the end of round three, nearly 5.5 million minutes were streamed on Golf Channel and NBC Sports Digital, which was up 612% from last year.
The Tiger-led ratings uptick for the PGA rolled into the Arnold Palmer Invitational this past weekend and Sunday’s final round delivered a 3.6 overnight rating, up 136% from last year. Combined with last week’s final round viewership at the Valspar Championship, which had a 5.1 overnight rating, the last two events have had the highest-rated final-round non-major telecasts on any broadcast network since the 2015 Wyndham Championship.
Sportsnet Has Most-Watched Raptors Regular Season Game Ever In Canada
Over 1.67 million Canadians tuned in Sportsnet on March 9 to see the Raptors defeat the Houston Rockets 108-105, with an average number of 552,000 viewers, making it the most-watched Raptors regular-season game ever in Canada.
The game, which was shown on Sportsnet ONE, had a peak audience number of 1.1 million viewers and was also the most-watched program of the night in the adult 25-54 demographic.
Ratings Continue To Rise For Fox Sports Tennessee’s Predators Coverage
The rise of hockey’s popularity in Smashville can be seen in the ratings for Predators coverage on Fox Sports Tennessee, which are up 150% from this point last season. Through 57 games this year, the Preds are averaging a 2.0 household rating and have had the two highest-rated games in more than 10 years. On March 1 against the Oilers, the average HH rating was 3.2 while the Feb. 22 game against the San Jose Sharks drew a 2.8.
The team is also seeing high ratings on the FOX Sports GO app, with the average minutes streamed per game is up 600 percent, unique streamers per game up 400 percent, and total streams per game up 376 percent from last season