Ratings Roundup: Super Bowl LIII Crashes to 16-Year Low; Lakers-Warriors on NBA Saturday Primetime Hit 52% Increase
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, a low-scoring Super Bowl LIII hits a record low, the NBA Saturday Primetime showdown between the Lakers and Warriors on ESPN is up from last year, UConn’s nine-point loss to Louisville was viewed by the largest women’s college basketball audience of the season, and ESPN reaches January success in the male demographic.
Sixteen Combined Points Calls for Lowest-Watch Super Bowl in 16 Years
According to SportsMediaWatch, Sunday night’s Super Bowl LIII between the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams earned a 41.1 rating and 98.2 million viewers on CBS, down 5% in ratings and viewership from Eagles-Patriots on NBC last year (43.1, 103.4M) and down 9% and 12% respectively from Patriots-Falcons on FOX in 2017 (45.3, 11.3M).
New England’s win tied the lowest Super Bowl rating since 2003 (Buccaneers-Raiders: 40.7), matching the Patriots’ 2005 win over Philadelphia. It snapped a streak of 12 straight years in which the Super Bowl topped a 42.0 rating. Overall, Sunday’s game tied the fifth-lowest Super Bowl rating since 1992.
Speaking of 1992, the adults 18-49 demo was down 7% in ratings and viewership from last year on NBC (33.4, 43.0M) and down 16% in both measures from 2017 on Fox (37.1, 47.6M). It was the lowest rated Super Bowl in the demo since at least 1992, falling below the previous mark of 33.2 in 2005 (SMW).
Also from SportsMediaWatch, local ratings in New Orleans correlate with their protests over the game. Among the 53 metered markets, New Orleans finished in last place with 26.1 rating in the market, down 51% from last year (53.0) and down 46% from 2017 (48.4).
Despite the bad ratings, the game posted a Total Audience Delivery of 112.7 million viewers, across all platforms including CBS Television Network, CBS Interactive, NFL digital properties, Verizon Media mobile properties and ESPN Deportes television and digital properties, as well as an additional 12 million viewers with Neilsen’s “Out of Home” viewing metric. In addition, across 7.5 million unique devices, up +20% from last year, viewers consumed more than 560 million total minutes of live game coverage, up +19% from last year. The average minute audience of 2.6 million viewers during the game window is up +31% year-over-year.
In addition, Super Bowl Sunday delivered a record-breaking day on CBS All Access in terms of new subscriber sign-ups, unique viewers, and time spent. Sunday surpassed prior single-day records by +84% in subscriber sign-ups, +46% in unique viewers, and +76% in time spent on CBS All Access across all content and digital platforms.
In local ratings, Boston led all markets with a 57.1 rating — up 2% from New England’s loss last year (55.9) and up 5% from their unlikely 2017 win, in which they trailed by as many as 25 (54.3). The rating is the second-highest for a Patriots Super Bowl in Boston during the Tom Brady era, trailing only the team’s 2015 win over Seattle (61.0). Sunday’s overnight topped the Red Sox’ World Series clincher last October by 32% (43.2).
As for Los Angeles, Sunday’s game had a 44.6 rating in Los Angeles, the highest Super Bowl rating in the market since 1996 (SMW).
ESPN’s NBA Saturday Primetime Increases 52% From Last Year
Saturday night’s NBA Saturday Primetime on ABC delivered a 3.2 metered market rating for the reigning NBA Champion Golden State Warriors victory over the Los Angeles Lakers, according to Nielsen. It was up 52% from last year’s Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Houston Rockets broadcast, which delivered a 2.1. The Warriors vs. Lakers broadcast matched the fifth-highest rated NBA Saturday Primetime on ABC broadcast ever.
Last night’s broadcast peaked with a 3.8 rating from 10:30-1:45 p.m. ET. In the San Francisco-Oakland market, the broadcast generated a 13.5 rating, while in the Los Angeles market, it drew a 6.3 rating. NBA Saturday Primetime on ABC is up 3%from last year, averaging a 3.0 metered market rating.
UConn Loss Tops Women’s College Basketball Charts
Last Thursday’s UConn loss to Lousiville on the road scored a 0.45 rating and 683,000 viewers on ESPN, down 6% in ratings but up 2% in viewership from last year (UConn-South Carolina: 0.48, 669K). Compared to a Michigan State-Nebraska men’s game in the same window two years ago, viewership fell 12% from 778,000.
The Cardinals’ upset win delivered the largest women’s college basketball audience of the season, topping the previous high of 670,000 for UConn-Notre Dame in December (SMW).
ESPN Dominates in January’s Male Demo
ESPN began the year leading all of cable for January in primetime audience and in total day for the key male and adult demos. The network also led all networks – broadcast or cable – among men 18-34 for three separate weekday three-hour dayparts.
Among all cable networks, ESPN was the leader in primetime among total audience (P2+) with an average of 2,591,000 viewers; males and adults 18+, 18-34, 18-49 and 25-54; as well as males 12-17.
In total day, ESPN was No. 1 among all fulltime cable networks for males 12-17 and males and adults 18-34, 18-49 and 25-54.
Weekday studio shows have a proven track record of success with young men, and January was no exception. ESPN led all networks – broadcast or cable – among men 18-34 from 10 a.m. ET – 1 p.m., 4-7 p.m. and 11 p.m. – 2 a.m. These dayparts include various editions of SportsCenter (including the 6 p.m. show which has seen an increase in audience for 11 straight months), plus First Take, High Noon, Highly Questionable, Around the Horn, and Pardon the Interruption.