Ratings Roundup: St. Louis Blues Breaks Cable TV Ratings Barrier With WCF Game 6 Win

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, 20.8% of all homes in St. Louis witnessed the Blues break their 49-year Stanley Cup Final drought, NBC Sports’ Sunday Night Football reigns supreme for the eighth straight year, Formula 1 ratings continue to roll after the Spanish Grand Prix, the quarterfinals of Liga MX does damage, and First Take interview with Magic Johnson pushes a 54% first hour increase.

Blues Fans Come in Droves for Game 6 Win of the Western Conference Finals
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the city was rocking for the St. Louis Blues’ clinching victory that sends them to their first Stanley Cup Final in 49 years.

The Blues are surging into the Stanley Cup finals for the first time in nearly half a century and do so on a television ratings roll. Their victory Tuesday night over San Jose that gave them the Western Conference title generated the team’s best rating ever for a contest shown on cable TV.

Nielsen reports that 20.8% of homes with a TV in the St. Louis market tuned in to NBCSN’s production. That tops the previous high, a 19.6 rating Fox Sports Midwest drew in 2016 for Game 7 of a first-round playoff series against Chicago.

The rating Tuesday in the San Francisco Bay Area was 3.2.

Nielsen has tabulated ratings on a daily basis in St. Louis since 1989, so figures for the Blues’ three Stanley Cup finals appearances (1968, ‘69 and ‘70) are not available. The top figure on record is 28.3, for Game 7 of a first-round series against Detroit in 1991. That telecast was on KPLR (Channel 11).

Ratings on Tuesday surged from 9-9:45 p.m., when the final period was played and the postgame celebration began. The average for the three 15-minute segments in that span was 24.6, with the peak stretch (9:30-9:45) at 26.9.

Sunday Night Football Remains at the Top
With the 2018-19 TV season wrapping up, NBC’s Sunday Night Football finishes as primetime’s No. 1 show in all key metrics for an unprecedented eighth consecutive year – adding to its record for the most consecutive years atop the charts (since 1950), based on official live plus same day data provided by Nielsen. Sunday Night Football also ranked as the No. 1 show in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demographic for the ninth consecutive TV season.

NBC Sunday Night Football posted a Total Audience Delivery average of 19.6 million viewers in 2018 – up 7% from the 2017 season (18.4 million), according to official live plus same data provided by Nielsen, and digital data from Adobe Analytics.

In addition, on Monday night in New York at the Sports Emmy Awards for excellence in sports television production, Sunday Night Football became the first show ever to win 10 Sports Emmys in the Outstanding Live Sports Series category. SNF has earned the honor in 10 of the past 11 years.

NBC Sunday Night Football averaged 19.3 million TV viewers in 2018, which topped the #2 primetime show (Thursday Night Football) by 35% — marking the most dominant season in NBC SNF history (since 2006 debut). SNF also beat by 45% the top scripted comedy series (Big Bang Theory, 13.3 million live + same day viewers), and topped the most-watched scripted dramas by 59% (Game of Thrones and NCIS, 12.1 million).

Household Rating
SNF averaged an 11.0/21 household rating in posting the series’ largest-ever advantage (28%) over primetime’s #2 show (TNF). SNF also easily topped the highest-rated scripted series (Big Bang Theory), with a 38% margin.

Additional highlights include:

  • For the 2018-19 primetime television season, Sunday Night Football ranked as the highest-rated (11.0 HH rating) and most-watched show (19.3 million TV-only viewers), and the No. 1 program among Adults 18-49 (6.1). (Nielsen Live + Same Day Data, 9/6/18-5/19/19; Regularly-Scheduled Series, Excludes Pre- and Post-Game Shows)
  • In each of its 13 seasons (2006-18), Sunday Night Football has averaged at least a 10.0 U.S. household rating (11.0 this season) and a 5.0 rating in the key Adult 18-49 demographic (6.1 this season). Among other primetime shows, only American Idol and Grey’s Anatomy have posted a 10.0 HH rating and a 5.0 demo rating more than twice in that 13-year stretch, and neither has done so since 2011. (Nielsen Live + Same Day Data, 9/6/18-5/19/19; Excludes Pre- and Post-Game Shows)
  • SNF’s eight-year run at the top marks the only eight times on record that a sports series has been the highest-rated and most-watched show of the primetime TV season.

Formula 1 Runs Rampant on ESPN
ESPN2’s live telecast of the Formula 1 Emirates Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday, May 12, attracted the largest U.S. television audience on record for the event and continued the positive momentum for the championship on ESPN networks this season.

Of the five races run so far this season, four have seen year-over-year viewership increases on ESPN networks and three have attracted the largest U.S. television audience ever for the event.

The Spanish Grand Prix, which started at 9:05 a.m. ET, earned an average audience of 645,000 viewers, up 27% from last year’s race telecast on ESPN2 (507,000) and up 16% from the audience of 558,000 on NBCSN in 2017. In addition to being the largest U.S. TV audience for the event on record, it also is the sixth most-viewed F1 race to air on a cable network on record.

Through five races this season, Formula 1 telecasts are averaging 564,000 viewers on ESPN networks, up 28% from the first five ESPN telecasts last season (442,000 average) and up 44% from NBC networks’ first five races in 2017 (393,000 average). ESPN’s audience for the first five races is also up 107% over last year in the Adults ages 18-34 demographic.

First Hour of First Take Dominates After Magic Johnson Interview
The Monday, May 20, edition of ESPN’s popular morning debate show First Take with Stephen A. Smith, Max Kellerman, and host Molly Qerim Rose featured the first in-depth television interview with former Los Angeles Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson, since his abrupt departure from the team last month.

The one-hour interview – in which the basketball Hall of Famer candidly discussed the reasons behind his exit – was up 54% during the 10-11 a.m. ET window on ESPN over the comparable First Take episode in 2018 averaging 652,000 viewers, according to Nielsen. The show peaked at the end of Johnson’s interview between 10:45-10:59 a.m. with 677,000 viewers making it First Take’s most-viewed quarter hour since January.

Monday’s complete two-hour edition of First Take (10 a.m.-noon) was up 27% over last year averaging 597,000 viewers.

Quarterfinals of Liga MX Laps Major Networks
With its live coverage of the Liga MX matchup between Tigres UANL and Pachuca, Univision captured the No. 2 broadcast network ranking, ahead of ABC, CBS, Fox and Telemundo on Saturday night among Adults 18-34. Tigres UANL vs. Pachuca attracted more Total Viewers 2+ (+8% to 928,000), Adults 18-49 (+11% to 460,000) and Adults 18-34 (+12% to 176,000) than the prior Saturday’s soccer match of Leon vs. Tigres UANL as well as increased the network’s audience levels in the 7:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. time slot from the comparable Saturday last year among Total Viewers 2+ (+8%), Adults 18-49 (+36%) and Adults 18-34 (+39%). Tigres UANL and Pachuca also ranked as the second and sixth highest-rated program on broadcast television with Adults 18-34 and Adults 18-49, respectively and made Univision the No. 1 Spanish-language network with doubled the audience levels of Telemundo for the fifth consecutive Saturday night among Adults 18-34 and for the seventh consecutive Saturday night among Adults 18-49 and Total Viewers 2+.

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