Ratings Roundup: British Open Draws Largest Crowd Since Turn of the Century

Ratings roundup is a rundown of rating news from the past week and is derived from press releases and reports around the industry. In this week’s edition, the British Open captures fans with an intriguing finish on Sunday, the WNBA All-Star Game received a ratings improvement from 2017, ESPN’s coverage of Wimbledon saw an increase from last year’s event, the Overwatch League wrapped up their first season this past weekend, Baseball Tonight on ESPN is on the rise, the summer installment of the X Games in Minneapolis doubled in growth, MLB Network benefited from their coverage of the MLB Trade Deadline, NESN receives primetime praise with its broadcasts of the Boston Red Sox, Liga MX and the 2018 MLS All-Star Game are showcased on Univision, UFC on Fox 30 drops the lowest ratings in series history, and the Senior Open captured a large audience on NBC Sports

British Open Reels in Highest Numbers Since 2000
The British Open
was highlighted by a 4.3 rating on Sunday’s final round. It was the most-watched round of the tournament since 2000, with 8.56 million viewers on NBC. The action peaked with figures from 6 million to 9.36 million (1:30 to 1:45 p.m. ET).

Saturday’s WNBA All-Star Game in Minnesota’s Target Center
According to Cynopsis Sports, ESPN saw the Verizon WNBA All-Star Game average 709,000 viewers, up 17% year over year to rank as the most-viewed all-star game since 2015, which aired on ABC and ESPN. Host city Minneapolis and Hartford/New Haven topped the charts with a 1.6 local market rating, followed by Oklahoma City (1.5), Norfolk and San Antonio (1.4), and Charlotte (1.2).

Wimbledon Ratings Rise from 2017 Edition
ESPN’s exclusive coverage of the Wimbledon fortnight earned a +6% increase in audience (P2+) over the 2017 Championships. ESPN’s coverage averaged 667,000 viewers vs. 630,000 a year ago. ESPN has had exclusive first ball to last ball coverage for Wimbledon since 2012.

Overwatch League Benefits From Global Live Streams
The Overwatch League Grand Finals at Barclays Center in Brooklyn drew an estimated global average minute audience across both days of 861,205 (inclusive of both ESPN TV networks and various streaming platforms). The London Spitfire’s 2-0 victory over the Philadelphia Fusion drew a U.S. average minute audience of 289,175, with an estimated 45% of that total, or 129,792, falling into the 18–34 demographic. Worldwide, the 18–34 average minute audience was 605,013.

The Gentlemen’s Semifinals’ pair of thrillers, the Kevin AndersonJohn Isner marathon and the two-day Novak DjokovicRafael Nadal matchup, resulted in the best Gentlemen’s Semifinals since 2013 with overall viewership up +24% over last year.

Serena Williams’s return to Wimbledon after missing 2017 drove the Ladies’ Championship match window to be the most-viewed since 2012 with an average of 2.7 million viewers, up +32% over 2017.

Digital consumption of tennis content grew across ESPN.com and the ESPN App, up +63% over 2017’s Championships. Angelique Kerber’s win over Serena Williams in the Ladies’ Championship drove the most video starts, while the interruption of the Djokovic-Nadal semifinal match drew the most page views.

Baseball Tonight: Sunday Night Countdown Benefits from Increased Viewership
The audience for Baseball Tonight: Sunday Night Countdown presented by Chevrolet on ESPN is up 17% this season. The pre-game show, which precedes Sunday Night Baseball presented by Taco Bell, is averaging 591,000 viewers in 2018 — up from 507,000 viewers last season.

Baseball Tonight: Sunday Night Countdown generally airs at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN and the ESPN App. Analysts include former World Series Champions Mark Teixeira and David Ross, who join host Karl Ravech and analyst Tim Kurkjian to comprise the team. Ravech is celebrating his 25th anniversary at ESPN, while Kurkjian is celebrating his 20th anniversary. Together they form one of sports broadcasting’s longest-tenured pairings on any show.

X Games Minneapolis 2018 Grows on TV, Digital Platforms
X Games Minneapolis 2018 content across ESPN’s television networks enjoyed double-digit growth on television, triple-digit growth on digital and streaming services, and video growth across social media networks enjoyed triple digit growth across all pages. It marks the second-straight event to see double-digit growth, following the X Games Aspen event in January.

Across media, X Games Minneapolis 2018 successes include:


  • X Games Minneapolis audience across ESPN, ESPN2, and ABC was up +38% year-over-year for all telecasts
  • Across the telecasts on ESPN, viewing by fans 18-34 increased by +34% year-over-year
  • Viewing by fans aged 12-34 across all telecasts increased by +21% year-over-year
  • ABC accounted for 50% of the event’s total time spent viewing

Digital & Social:

  • The X Games’ YouTube channel had more than 26 million minutes streamed, up +646% year-over-year, with the average watch time reaching more than 11 minutes
  • The total number of video views on X Games’ YouTube channel topped 2.3 million
  • The X Games Facebook page reached more than 9 million fans, up +120% year-over-year. Those fans logged 4 million video views, up +210% year-over-year
  • On Instagram, the X Games page reached more than 1.6 million people, with 8.5 million video views, up +225% year-over-year
  • X Games social media accounts gained over 50,000 new followers during the week of the event.
  • This Instagram post — from skateboarder Nyjah Huston, featuring runs from his Skateboard Street competition — generated the most interactions of all posts during the games, with more than 692,000 interactions and video views during the games (up to 1.3 million to date).


  • The total on-site attendance for X Games Minneapolis 2018 was 119,000
  • X Games welcomed new sponsors Nexcare, SoFi, GO RVing, and Hotels.com to the roster of returning sponsors Fruit of the Loom, Harley-Davidson, LifeProof, Monster Energy, Pacifico, the Real Cost, Toyota, Explore Minneapolis, and GEICO.

MLB Trade Deadline Programs Excel on MLB Network
Cynopsis Sports reports that program dedicated to Monday afternoon’s coverage of the 2018 MLB Trade Deadline received viewership improvements compared to last year’s deadline. The following shows include:

  • MLB Central —18%
  • MLB Tonight: Trade Deadline Edition — 12%
  • MLB Now — 12%
  • Intentional Talk — 2%

NESN Continues First Half Success With High Ratings of Boston Red Sox Telecast
NESN posted a season-high average household rating with an 11.2 in the Boston DMA (nearly 1.4 million people watched the game across New England’s 9 DMAs) as the Red Sox trounced the Yankees Thursday night at Fenway Park scoring a season-high-tying 15 runs.

NESN’s Red Sox coverage dominated the Boston market in every key demographic including Men 25-54 with a 6.5 rating in prime time which was 49% higher than the combined average of the 4 broadcast networks in Boston which totaled a 3.4 in the demo during prime time (WCVB-ABC, WBZ-CBS, WBTS-NBC, and WFXT-Fox).

NESNgo streaming recorded 29,576 unique streams. These additional viewers are not included in the Nielsen rating, which also excludes out-of-home measurement for regional sports networks.

NESN’s 11.2 household rating in the Boston DMA last night was 148% better than the YES Network’s 4.5 household rating in the New York DMA.

Year to date, NESN’s average household rating for Red Sox games (6.5) is the second highest in MLB and is double, triple or quadruple that of 16 of the other 28 RSNs in the country.

Monday night’s the 13-inning, walk-off 2-1 win vs Philly not only was a NESN Red Sox season high rating of 9.52 (nearly 1.1 million people watched the game across New England’s 9 DMAs), but NESN’s share of the audience in Prime Time (in the Boston DMA) shattered the competition.

NESN’s Prime Time (8p-11p) average share in the Boston DMA was 19.1. That’s 18% higher than the total average combined share last night of ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox (16.2).

“Share” is the Nielsen term for the percentage of TV sets that are turned on and watching a particular TV network. Therefore, in Prime Time last night, on average, 19.1% of all TV sets that were turned on from 8-11p were watching the Red Sox on NESN.

These figures exclude NESNgo streaming (which separately had 24,552 unique streams last night) and it also excludes out-of-home measurement, which Nielsen does not measure on a regional sports network level.

NESN’s broadcast of the Red Sox-Twins game on Thursday, July 26 continued the network’s primetime ratings dominance in the Boston DMA — earning a 9.1 average household rating, which is over three times the primetime rating of the night’s top broadcast network (WBZ — 3.0 HH)

The 9.1 household rating, NESN’s third highest HH rating of the season, was 25% higher than all four broadcast network’s combined (7.3 combined household average for WBTS/NBC, WBZ/CBS, WCVB/ABC & WFXT/Fox).

In the key Men 25-54 demographic, NESN garnered a 4.6 rating, which is 53% higher than all four broadcast network’s combined (3.0 combined M25-54 rating for WBTS/NBC, WBZ/CBS, WCVB/ABC & WFXT/Fox).

Liga MX and the 2018 MLS All-Star Game on Univision
With its live coverage of Liga MX featuring the two soccer matches between America versus Atlas and Guadalajara (“Chivas”) versus Cruz Azul, Univision finished as the No. 2 broadcast network — out-delivering ABC, CBS, and NBC on Saturday night among Adults 18-34.

Preceded by America versus Atlas which drew in 706,000 Total Viewers 2+, 370,000 Adults 18-49, and 170,000 Adults 18-34, the match between Guadalajara and Cruz Azul retained and increased its overall audience by +17% with 823,000 Total Viewers 2+ while also ranked as the second and fifth most-watched program on all of broadcast television on Saturday night among Adults 18-34 (226,000) and Adults 18-49 (451,000), respectively.

The sports event also drove Univision to a first-place finish on Spanish-language television for the entire night, outperforming Telemundo by double-digit margins among Total Viewers 2+ (+53% adv.), Adults 18-49 (+70% adv.), and Adults 18-34 (+81% adv.).

Cynopsis Sports is reporting that the average of 495,000 Total Viewers and 306,000 Adults 18-49 watched the MLS All-Stars take on Juventus in Atlanta. UniMas and UDN covered the game and the broadcast received a 37% increase among Total Viewers 2+ and 65% among Adults 18-49 from 2016’s edition (the last time UniMas covered the All-Star Game).

UFC on Fox Hits Record Low
UFC on Fox 30 registered a 1.04 rating with 1,678,000 viewers — the lowest rated event in the history of the program. Viewership was down 41% from UFC on Fox 28 in 2016 and 18% down from last year’s showing (July 2017 — 2,975,000 viewers) On the digital side, Fox streaming services brought in 16,109 streaming viewers on average.

NBC Sports Captures Most-Watched Senior Open Since 2010
Sunday’s final round of The Senior Open presented by Rolex on NBC delivered 1.244 million average viewers (12-2 p.m. ET; P2+), which saw Miguel Angel Jimenez claim a one-shot victory over defending champion Bernhard Langer at The Old Course at St Andrews, the Home of Golf. This makes The 2018 Senior Open final round the most-watched PGA Tour Champions sanctioned event telecast since the 2010 U.S. Senior Open final round on NBC (1.286 million average viewers); and the most-watched Senior Open telecast since the 2009 final round on ABC (1.399 million average viewers).

Combined with Saturday’s record viewership (980,000 average viewers, most-watched third round at this event in 12 years), NBC Sports’ combined weekend coverage (.76 U.S. Household Rating, 1.107 million average viewers) becomes the most-watched weekend at this event in nine years, since 2009 on ABC.

Additional viewership highlights include:

  • NBC Sports’ final round linear coverage peaked at a .97 U.S. Household Rating and 1.45 million average viewers (1:30P-1:45P).
  • NBC Sports’ Total Audience Delivery for Sunday’s final round was 1.246 million average viewers across linear and streaming, +29% vs. 2017.
  • NBC Sports’ third round on Saturday delivered a .69 U.S. Household Rating and 980,000 average viewers, the most-watched third round at this event in 12 years (2006, ABC, 1.12 million average viewers). Also the most-watched Saturday telecast for a PGA TOUR Champions sanctioned event in 11 years, since the 2007 U.S. Senior Open on NBC (1.11 million).
  • Across four days of coverage, 1.57 million total minutes streamed (+92% vs. 2017); making 2018 the most-streamed Senior Open across Golf Channel and NBC Sports’ platforms (2016-18).

Golf Channel viewership highlights:

  • Thursday’s opening round on Golf Channel (11 a.m.-2:08 p.m. ET) posted a .15 U.S. Household Rating and 204,000 average viewers, the most-watched opening round at this event on Golf Channel (2016-18) and since the 2009 Senior Open on TNT (345,000 average viewers).
  • Friday’s second round on Golf Channel (11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. ET) posted a .12 U.S. Household Rating and 182,000 viewers, also the most-watched second round at this event on Golf Channel (2016-18) and since 2013 on ESPN2 (205,000 average viewers).

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