Ratings Roundup: NFL Week 2 Concludes With Bears-Seahawks in Chicago; Pair of Nationally-Ranked Teams Square Off in College Football

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 Chicago Bears hosted the Seattle Seahawks on Monday Night Football, CBS and NBC notched another week of NFL action, Ohio State-TCU and LSU-Auburn headlined Saturday’s college football slate on ESPN and CBS, Ravens-Bengals take over Thursday Night Football on NFL Network, the Seattle Storm clinched the WNBA Championship, and IndyCar’s championship race of the Grand Prix of Sonoma aired on NBC Sports.

Chicago Defeats Seattle in MNF Matchup
The Week 2 Monday Night Football game — a Chicago Bears 24-17 victory over the Seattle Seahawks — helped ESPN win the night among all networks (broadcast or cable) in households, viewers and all key male and adult demos (18-34, 18-49 and 25-54). This marks the second straight Monday that ESPN has won the night in all categories.

Yesterday’s MNF game also ranked as the No. 1 telecast of the night (out-delivering the Emmy Awards) among households, viewers and all key male and adult demos.

Seahawks-Bears delivered a total live audience (TV + Streaming) of 11.8 million average viewers across ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPN Deportes.

  • On ESPN, the Seahawks-Bears game averaged a 7.0 US household rating and 11,720,000 viewers. The game peaked during the 9:15-9:30 p.m. quarter hour with a 7.9 US household rating and 13,377,000 viewers on ESPN
  • On ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes, Seahawks-Bears averaged 129,000 viewers.

Local markets:

  • In Seattle, the game delivered a 9.8 rating on ESPN and a 21.3 rating on KIRO-CBS, for a combined 31.1 rating in the market.
  • In Chicago, the game delivered an 8.8 rating on ESPN and a 20.3 on WLS-ABC, for a combined 29.1 rating in the market.

The top metered markets (not including those of the competing teams): New Orleans (15.2), Denver (10.8), Kansas City (10.5), Raleigh-Durham (10.5), Columbus (10.4), Minneapolis (10.3), Las Vegas (10.2), Washington, DC (10.2), Portland, Ore. (9.8), and Buffalo/Philadelphia (9.5).

Week 2 of The NFL on CBS and NBC Sunday Night Football
CBS Sports’ Week 2 coverage of The NFL on CBS on Sunday scored its best opening NFL doubleheader game rating in three years and was the highest-rated game of the day on any network earning an average overnight household rating/share of 14.0/28, up +1% from last year (13.8/27) in the metered markets.

The day’s coverage was highlighted by the national 4:25 PM, ET game window featuring the AFC Championship rematch of New England-Jacksonville and Oakland-Denver.

For the second week in a row, CBS’ NFL pregame show, The NFL Today, earned a double-digit ratings increase, up +14%, with a rating/share of 2.5/7 vs. last year (2.2/6) in the metered markets.

According to Cynopsis Sports, the New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys nightcap on NBC’s Sunday Night Football ranked as the day’s top primetime show with a 13.8/24 in overnight — up 10% from last year’s Week 2 score and marking the best Week 2 overnight for the telecast since 2015.

Buckeyes vs. Horned Frogs/Battle of the Tigers Highlight College Football Schedule
College football’s week 3 delivered banner results for ABC and ESPN, as the networks combined to be up 27% year-over-year on Saturday and ABC’s Saturday Night Football aired the most-watched game of the season on any network. ABC’s primetime success capped a tripleheader which saw audience gains in each of its game windows and coincided with ESPN’s prime-time telecast which was the second most-watched primetime game on any network. During the two prime-time games, ESPN and ABC’s audience peaked at 11,186,000 (9:30-9:45 p.m.ET) and throughout the course of eleven hours of game time (noon-11 p.m. ET), on average, 7.5 million fans were tuning into college football on ABC/ESPN’s networks at any given minute.

ABC’s Saturday Night Football featuring Ohio State vs. TCU (8 p.m. ET) was the most-watched game of the season on any network, delivering a total live audience of 7,328,000 viewers. The telecast was ABC’s most-watched regular season game in more than a calendar year (Oklahoma at Ohio State on Sept. 9, 2017) and up 41% from last season’s week 3 SNF game.

Buoyed by the Big Ten-Big 12 clash, ABC went on to ‘win the night’ among households, viewers and all key male and female adult demos, beating all broadcast and cable competition — including networks not airing sporting events. Three weeks into the season, ABC/ESPN have beat the sport and non-sport competition four different nights, resulting in each network ‘winning the night’ on two different occasions.

Additional Buckeye-Horned Frog Superlatives:

  • Among September’s Best: The more than 7.3 million viewers is the fourth highest for a September, non-opening week SNF game in the last 10 years.
  • Barrage of Points Peaks Audience: ABC’s audience peaked at 8,700,000 viewers in the midst of a 34 point third quarter (10:30 – 11 p.m.)
  • Prime-time Champions: ABC’s audience topped its broadcast competition by 148% in primetime.

Prime-time success extended to ESPN, as Alabama at Ole Miss (7 p.m.) delivered a Nielsen total live audience of 4,109,000 viewers, the second most-watched prime-time game in week 3. The audience for the Crimson Tide’s victory beat the broadcast competition by 39% and was up 64% year-over year from last season’s same game window on ESPN.

ABC’s success began early in the day as Oklahoma at Iowa State (noon) garnered a total live audience of 3,434,000 viewers and BYU at Wisconsin (3:30 p.m.) delivered a total live audience of 2,972,000 viewers. The audience for the Sooners’ victory was up 4% year-over-year, while simultaneously earning the highest for the noon game window across its competition. The network’s audience for the Cougars upset was up 28% from the same matchup last season.

ESPN grew its audience in nearly every window on Saturday, as Florida State at Syracuse (noon) delivered a Nielsen total live audience of 1,869,000 viewers, up 19% from similar game window last year and the second most-watched cable game of the day. ESPN’s final game window featuring Washington at Utah (10 p.m.) averaged a Nielsen total live audience of 1,589,000 viewers and Boise State at Oklahoma State (3:30 p.m.) delivered 1,438,000 average viewers. The audience for the Huskies win was up 33% year-over year, while the audience for the Cowboys’ win out-paced every game from the cable competition.

According to Cynopsis Sports, the SEC on CBS’ afternoon matchup of LSU/Auburn notched a 3.7 to rank as the highest-rated afternoon college football game on Saturday, peaking at a 5.4

Seattle Storm Capture Third Title in Team History
The Seattle Storm’s championship-clinching Game 3 of the 2018 WNBA Finals earned a 0.4 metered-market rating on Wednesday, September 12 — the highest-rated WNBA Finals game on ESPN2 since 2010 (tied with six other Finals games). The game, which saw Seattle overcome the Washington Mystics 98 – 82 for the sweep, was also up 33% from last year’s Game 3.

The top five markets were: Seattle-Tacoma (3.6), Hartford & New Haven (1.7), Washington, DC (1.2), New Orleans (0.9), and Memphis (0.9).

An AFC North Duel on NFL Network
NFL Network’s telecast of Thursday Night Football between the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals averaged a 4.2 US HH rating and 7 million overall P2+ viewers — up +16% in US HH rating and up +15% in overall P2+ viewership compared to NFL Network’s seven exclusive Thursday Night Football games in 2017.

The Bengals’ 34-23 victory over the AFC North rival Ravens peaked at 8 million viewers during the 9:30-9:45 PM ET quarter hour.

IndyCar Takes the Course for the Grand Prix of Sonoma
NBC Sports’ coverage of the IndyCar Grand Prix of Sonoma championship race on Sunday evening produced a Total Audience Delivery of 638,000 average viewers to tie as the fourth most-watched live IndyCar race on NBCSN in nine years.

Sunday’s viewership of the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series finale on NBCSN (7:08-8:57 p.m. ET) was up 19% vs. last year’s race (536,000) to tie as NBCSN’s fourth most-watched race out of more than 100 live races on the network since acquiring IndyCar rights prior to the 2009 season (tied with Pocono; 2015). Sunday’s Grand Prix of Sonoma is the most-watched live race on NBCSN since Mid-Ohio in 2016 (811,000). Scott Dixon (Chip Ganassi Racing) won his fifth career championship, ranking second only behind A.J. Foyt (7) for the most IndyCar championships in history.

Including IndyCar live look-in coverage that took place during a NASCAR red flag from 6:46-6:54 p.m. ET, the Total Audience Delivery for the race swells to 764,000 average viewers on NBCSN.

The most-watched live IndyCar Races To Date (in terms of TAD):

  • Mid-Ohio 7/31/2016 934,00
  • Sonoma 8/30/2015 846,000
  • Edmonton 7/24/2011 642,000
  • Sonoma 9/16/2018 638,000
  • Pocono 8/23/2015 638,000
  • Pocono 8/20/2017 624,000

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