Ratings Roundup: ESPN2 Second Screen Aids NL Wild Card Game Ratings; Chiefs-Broncos Top Year Old Mark on Monday Night 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, ESPN’s Wild Card Game rises over 50% from the 2017 edition, the 2018 NFL season is through Week 4 of action, Week 5 of college football finishes with the Buckeyes narrowly defeating the Nittany Lions in front of 9.3 million home viewers, the Ryder Cup recovers from their 2014 ratings struggle, the first ever MLB tiebreaking doubleheader exceeds records for the afternoon time slot, the NASCAR ROVAL creates the most TV buzz since 2014 in Charlotte, and NESN compiles their ratings for the 2018 MLB regular season.

ESPN Platforms Raise 59% in the National League Wild Card Game
ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPN Deportes combined to draw 7,100,000 viewers for the 2018 MLB National League Wild Card Game presented by Hankook Tire. The 13-inning thriller, in which the Colorado Rockies defeated the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field, became the fourth most-watched MLB Wild Card Game ever, according to Fast Nationals from Nielsen. Tuesday’s telecast peaked across ESPN platforms with 8,400,000 viewers from 11-11:30 p.m. ET.

Tuesday’s NL Wild Card Game telecasts outdrew the 2017 NL Wild Card Game by 61%, while also outdrawing the 2017 AL Wild Card Game on ESPN by 2%. ESPN won the night across all of cable television for Tuesday, Oct. 2.

NFL Week 4 Concludes With Most Watched Monday Night Football Game Since September 2017
The Monday Night Football matchup — a dramatic 27-23 Kansas City Chiefs come-from-behind victory over the Denver Broncos — averaged 13.3 million viewers across ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPN Deportes. It is the most-viewed Monday Night Football since last year’s Cowboys-Cardinals game on September 25 (13.8 million viewers).

The Week 4 MNF audience reflects a 10% increase compared to last year’s Redskins at Chiefs Week 4 game (12.2 million viewers).

Chiefs-Broncos 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, 25-54). The telecast also delivered the highest-rated telecast of the night across all broadcast and cable networks among the same demos — television households, viewers (P2+), key male, and people demos. This is the fourth straight Monday that ESPN has won the night in all key categories.

  • On ESPN, the Week 4 MNF telecast averaged a 7.9 US household rating and 13.2 million viewers. The telecast peaked from 11:00-11:15 p.m. ET with a 9.5 US household rating and 15.8 million viewers.
  • On ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes, Chiefs-Broncos averaged an additional 120,000 viewers.

In local markets:

  • In Kansas City, the game delivered a 15.5 rating on ESPN and a 30.3 rating on KMBC-ABC, for a combined 45.8 rating in the market.
  • In Denver, the game delivered a 15.8 rating on ESPN and a 20.7 on KTVD-NBC, for a combined 36.5 rating in the market.

The top 10 metered markets (not including those of the competing teams): New Orleans (14.7), Albuquerque-Santa Fe (14.0), Washington, DC (12.5), Norfolk (12.0), Richmond-Petersburg (11.8), Baltimore (11.6), Sacramento (11.2), Tulsa (11.0), Phoenix (11.0), and San Diego (10.9)…

…CBS Sports’ Week 4 NFL doubleheader coverage of The NFL on CBS on Sunday scored with increases of 33% in viewership and household rating for its national 4:25 PM, ET game window.

Through four weeks, THE NFL ON CBS’ season-to-date ratings are up +8% and viewership is up +7% from a year ago (9.5/22 vs. 8.8/20 and 16.3 million vs. 15.2 million, respectively).

CBS’ national 4:25 PM, ET game window was the most-watched and highest-rated game of Week 4 on any network averaging 20.7 million viewers, up +33% from last year (15.6M). The game earned an average national household rating/share of 12.1/24, up +33% from last year (9.1/19).

The regional game window was seen by 15.4 million viewers, up +32% from last year (11.7M). The game earned a rating/share of 9.3/22, up +33% from last year (7.0/16)…

…According to SportsMediaWatch, the Fox single header featuring Cowboys-Lions and Browns-Raiders captured a 10.3 rating and 18.0 million viewers — down 10% in ratings and viewership from last year, when coverage featured Rams-Cowboys or Panthers-Patriots (11.5, 20.1M), but up 10% and 9% respectively from 2016 on CBS (9.4, 16.4M)…

…Ravens-Steelers had a 10.4 rating and 17.9 million viewers on NBC’s Sunday Night Football over the weekend, up 9% in ratings and 7% in viewership from last year (Colts-Seahawks: 9.6, 16.7M). Compared to 2016 (Chiefs-Steelers), ratings increased a tick (from 10.3) but viewership fell 1% (from 18.1M) (SMW)…

…The Thursday Night Football Presented by Bud Light contest between the Los Angeles Rams and the Minnesota Vikings was seen by an average audience of 15.1 million viewers across all platforms, including Fox, NFL Network, Fox Deportes, NFL digital, Fox Sports digital, Amazon, and Yahoo Sports — up +6% versus the 2017 10-game Thursday Night Football average (TV + all digital).

The Nielsen-measured audience was 14.5 million viewers, up +5% versus the 2017 10-game Thursday Night Football average on NBC/CBS and NFL Network.

Digital streaming across Amazon Prime Video, Twitch, NFL digital platforms, Fox Sports digital platforms, and Yahoo Sports produced an average minute audience of 816K — an increase of +86% over the 2017 10-game Thursday Night Football average and the highest digital viewership ever for Thursday Night Football.

Amazon Prime Video and Twitch reached a total of 2.0M combined viewers worldwide for the Fox NFL Thursday pregame show and the Vikings-Rams game. For the Vikings-Rams game alone, 1.8M worldwide viewers initiated a stream on Prime Video or Twitch. The average worldwide audience watching Thursday Night Football for at least 30 seconds on Prime Video or Twitch was 527K.

Ohio State-Penn State Grab 9.3 Million Viewers for the Top Spot in College Football Season
ABC’s Saturday Night Football drew an average total live audience of 9,279,000 viewers for Ohio State-Penn State (7:30 p.m. ET), making the Big Ten thriller the most-watched game of the season on any network. The substantial viewership is among the network’s most-watched primetime audiences in the last five seasons and, factoring in games played in just September, approaches the top of the network’s charts over the last decade. The down-to-the-wire Buckeyes’ victory peaked at 12,537,000 viewers — the sport’s highest peak audience this season on any network.

In addition to setting a new season high in Week 5, ABC televised the two most-watched games of the week while simultaneously growing its audience by 60% year-over-year from the same week last season.

The broadcast averaged of more than 9.2 million viewers for the Buckeyes 27-26 victory is the network’s highest regular season audience since its 2017 Kickoff Weekend record-breaking audience for Florida State vs. Alabama (56 games) and ranks in the top five most-watched September games on ABC in the last decade.

In addition to re-writing the record books, ABC was also the best among all networks in Week 5, dwarfing the primetime college football broadcast competition by 170% and 622%, respectively. ABC also more than doubled its own audience from last year’s Week 5 SNF game (Clemson-Virginia Tech).

As a result of its prime-time success, ABC “won-the night” on Saturday among all broadcast and cable competition — sports and non-sports programming for the third straight Saturday and, for ABC/ESPN, the sixth time overall. Each of the six times, ABC/ESPN rated the highest, and earned the most overall viewers, from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m., while also delivering the highest ratings among all key male and adult demos.

Syracuse at Clemson (noon) delivered a total live audience of 4,617,000 viewers, the second most-watched game of the week across all networks. The audience for the come-from-behind Tigers victory is ABC’s best in the noon game window since the 2016 season and up 65% from last year’s same game window…

…NBC Sports’ coverage of Saturday night’s Top 10 clash between the No. 7 Stanford Cardinal and the No. 8 Notre Dame Fighting Irish delivered the matchup’s second most-watched game on NBC in 24 years, according to Fast National Data provided by The Nielsen Company and Adobe Analytics.

Notre Dame’s 38-17 win over Stanford (7:30-11 p.m. ET) produced a Total Audience Delivery of 3.479 million average viewers, up 21% vs. the Notre Dame-Stanford game on NBC in 2016 (2.880 million) and up 16% vs. last year’s Notre Dame-USC game on NBC (3.012 million). Saturday’s viewership on NBC, NBCSports.com, and the NBC Sports app was the second best for the matchup since 1994 — only behind the Fighting Irish’s 20-13 overtime victory against the Cardinal in 2012 (5.124 million TAD).

Viewership of Saturday night’s game peaked in the 8:45-9 p.m. ET quarter-hour with nearly four million viewers (3.931 million), and delivered a 2.12 household rating. Indianapolis (7.4) and San Francisco (4.7) led all local markets, followed by Buffalo (4.5), Ft. Myers-Naples (4.3), and Chicago (4.0).

Through four games, Notre Dame Football on NBC has produced a Total Audience Delivery of 3.841 million average viewers, up 33% vs. the first four games of the 2017 season (2.879 million), marking the best viewership to this point on NBC since 2012 (4.477 million)…

…Over on Fox, Wisconsin-Iowa had a 2.0 rating and 3.31 million viewers, down a tick in ratings and 4% in viewership from last year (Notre Dame-Michigan State: 2.1, 3.46M), but up 82% and 90% respectively from 2016 (Oklahoma State-Baylor: 1.1, 1.75M) (SMW)…

…Rounding out Week 5 of the season is the SEC on CBS. The Tennessee-Georgia matchup received a 2.3 rating and a combined 3.640 viewers (SMW).

Ryder Cup Increases 13% From Previous European Tournament
According to SMW, Sunday’s final day coverage of the Ryder Cup earned a 1.8 rating and 2.67 million viewers on NBC, up 13% in ratings and 21% in viewership from 2014, the last time the tournament took place in Europe (1.6, 2.20M).

Compared to the last Ryder Cup in 2016, which took place in the United States, ratings fell a third (from 2.7) and viewership 37% (from 4.27M).

Though up from 2014, ratings and viewership were the second-lowest for the final day of the Ryder Cup since at least 1997.

Viewership peaked at 4.03 million from 10:15-10:30 AM ET. Europe clinched victory at 11 AM, 90 minutes before the end of NBC’s telecast window.

Saturday’s coverage pulled a 1.6 and 2.27 million, up 14% in ratings and 19% in viewership from ’14 (1.4, 1.91M). Compred to 2016, ratings fell 24% (from 2.1) and viewership 31% (from 3.31M).

Day one coverage on Friday delivered 765,000 over Golf Channel’s full ten-hour telecast window, up 12% from 2014 (685K) but down 41% from 2016 (1.3M). Golf Channel averaged 489,000 viewers from 2-6 AM ET, the network’s best-ever audience during that specific time period.

ESPN Historic Doubleheader Breaks Deadlock in NL Central, West
On Monday, ESPN delivered its two highest-rated MLB regular season afternoon telecasts in 20 years (since 1998). The Los Angeles Dodgers victory over the Colorado Rockies (4 p.m. ET start time), generated a 2.3 rating. Additionally, the Milwaukee Brewers victory over the Chicago Cubs (1 p.m. ET start time), drew a 1.9 rating. The historic MLB tiebreaker doubleheader averaged a 2.1 rating.

The Rockies vs. Dodgers game telecast generated record regular season local ratings on ESPN in both the Denver and Los Angeles markets. In the Denver market, the telecast drew a 9.0 rating, while in the Los Angeles market, the game drew a 6.9 rating.

The Brewers vs. Cubs game telecast delivered a 13.5 rating in the Milwaukee market, making it the highest-rated regular season MLB game on ESPN in the market. In Chicago, the telecast drew an 8.3 rating, making it the highest-rated regular season MLB game on ESPN since their World Series Championship banner-raising ceremony in April of 2017.

The NASCAR ROVAL Reaches Highest Viewership in Charlotte in Four Years
Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs race on NBC, which featured the debut of Charlotte Motor Speedway’s all-new ROVAL course and a down-to-the-wire finish between Jimmie Johnson, Martin Truex Jr., and Ryan Blaney, averaged a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 3.24 million viewers across NBC and NBC Sports Digital platforms — up 13% from last year’s race from the “Mecca of Motorsports.”

NASCAR on NBC’s first “cutoff” race of the 2018 Cup Series Playoffs delivered 3.22 million TV-only viewers and a 1.95 rating, up 13% and 6% vs. NBC’s coverage of last year’s race from Charlotte, making it the most-watched Fall Cup Series race from Charlotte since 2014.

Viewership of Sunday’s race on NBC peaked in the final 5:15-5:30 p.m. ET quarter hour, as nearly 4.4 million viewers watched the exhilarating finish, which saw Johnson and Truex Jr. collide in the final turn, as Blaney and the No. 12 Team Penske Ford took the checkered flag and advanced to the Round of 12.

Sunday’s Cup Series race from Charlotte finished with 71,000 unique devices and 5.2 million live minutes streamed across all NBC Sports Digital platforms, up 61% and 77% respectively vs. 2017.

In addition, Saturday’s Xfinity Series race from Charlotte averaged a TAD of 952,000 viewers across NBCSN and NBC Sports Digital platforms — up 14% vs. NBCSN’s 2017 Xfinity Series race from Dover (832,000).

NESN Ratings Year in Review
NESN averaged a 6.8 household rating in the Boston DMA in 2018, a 24% increase over the 2017 season. The regional network’s 2018 Red Sox viewership throughout New England’s 9 DMAs averaged an estimated 800,000 viewers per game.

Several key demographics also increased significantly in 2018 including Adults 25-54 (+29%), Men 25-54 (+27%) and Women 25-54 (+32%).

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