Ratings Roundup: Toronto’s First NBA Championship Shatters Viewership Numbers in Canada

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 conclusion of the 2019 NBA Finals breaks Canadian viewing records, the 2019 Stanley Cup Final, the USWNT’s thrashing of Thailand shines on Fox Sports and Telemundo, the U.S. Open puts up its best numbers since 2013, and the Premier Lacrosse League on NBC Sports makes history.

2019 NBA Finals Breaks Canadian Records
The 2019 NBA Finals between Warriors and Raptors delivered an aggregate average audience of 20.5 million viewers in the United States and Canada, up 11% vs. the 2018 NBA Finals between the Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers (18.5 million viewers). The game delivered a combined average audience of 8 million viewers in Canada across simulcast coverage on TSN, Citytv, ABC (in Canada) and RDS, making it the country’s most-watched TV program in 2019 and the country’s most-watched NBA game ever.

56% of the Canadian population (20.5 million viewers) watched all or part of the 2019 NBA Finals. The series accounts for six of the top 10 most-watched TV programs in Canada in 2019.

Despite these statistics, the Nielsen TV ratings for this NBA Finals on ABC declined 19% versus the event last year.

The six-game series — where the Raptors dethroned the Warriors, four games to two — averaged 14.3 million viewers, down from the Warriors-Cleveland Cavaliers 2018 finals’ 17.6 million average.

One saving grace for this year’s event: the sixth game posted a strong 18.2-million-viewer average. A year ago, during the four-game sweep by the Warriors, Game Two earned 18.5 million.

NBA Finals game 5 brought new record for Canadian broadcasts Sportsnet and Citytv as the combined platforms reached 13.4 million Canadians. This was the most-watched program ever for Rogers media. It was short lived due to the record-breaking viewership and audience for Game 6 of the Finals.

A record 7.7 million Canadians watched the Toronto Raptors win Canada’s first NBA championship on TSN, CTV, and RDS. With an entire nation behind them, the Toronto Raptors are NBA champions after defeating the Golden State Warriors 114-110 in Game 6 of the NBA FINALS last night on TSN, CTV, and RDS. A record 15.9 million unique Canadian viewers – 44% of Canada’s population – tuned in to watch some part of the game. Audiences peaked at nearly 10 million viewers (9.99 million) at 11:47 p.m. ET in the game’s final minute. Fans took the opportunity to celebrate alongside the team, as TSN and CTV’s postgame coverage attracted an average audience of 6.5 million viewers.

In Toronto and Hamilton, the game had a share of 82% on TSN and CTV, meaning that 82% of all people watching television in Toronto and Hamilton on Thursday night were tuned in to the game. This represents the highest audience ever in that market, excluding the Olympics.

TSN’s official social media accounts also garnered significant engagement during Game 6, with 12.5 million views on Twitter and 4.4 million views on Instagram.

Additionally, TSN’s live streaming coverage of Game 6 attracted 143,000 video starts across the network’s digital platforms, including TSN.ca and the TSN app. This represents the second-highest total for any event on TSN, behind only last year’s FIFA World Cup semi-final between England and Croatia.

The Raptors have soared to record audiences throughout the 2019 NBA playoffs. Not only were this year’s NBA FINALS the most-watched Raptors playoff series ever on TSN, but the Eastern Conference Final vs. the Milwaukee Bucks was the second most-watched Raptors playoff series ever on TSN.

Blues-Bruins Stanley Cup Finals Game 7 Becomes Most-Watched NHL Game Since 1994
Last night’s 2019 Stanley Cup Final Game 7, in which the St. Louis Blues defeated the Boston Bruins, 4-1, to capture their first-ever Stanley Cup, averaged a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of nearly 9 million viewers (8.914), making it the most-watched NHL game on record and propelling the seven-game Stanley Cup Final and 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs to numerous viewership and streaming milestones, according to Fast National data from Nielsen and digital data from Adobe Analytics.
Highlights of the game included:

  • Game 7 averaged a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of nearly 9 million viewers (8.914), making it the most-watched NHL game on record
  • Blues-Bruins Game 7 is the most-streamed NHL game ever, delivering an Average Minute Audience (AMA) of 191,500 viewers
  • St. Louis delivered a 41.8 local rating for Game 7, NBC Sports’ highest-rated Blues game ever in the market
  • The seven-game 2019 Stanley Cup Final averaged a TAD of 5.468 million, making it the most-watched Stanley Cup Final in four years and the third-most watched Final on record
  • Overall, the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs averaged a TAD of 1.530 million viewers, ranking as the most-watched Stanley Cup Playoffs in 23 years and up 6% compared to last season.

Despite a 4-0 score late in the third period and an eventual three-goal victory by the Blues, Game 7 (8-11 p.m. ET) averaged a TAD of 8.914 million viewers across NBC, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app, making it the most-watched NHL game on record and up 4% vs. the previous Game 7 eight years earlier between the Bruins and Vancouver Canucks (June 5, 2011), which averaged a TV-only 8.537 million viewers on NBC. Digital streaming was not yet available at that time. Game 7 was also up 35% compared to viewership for Blues-Bruins Game 6 on Sunday night (6.610 million viewers).

The term “on record” refers to the current Nielsen measuring system, which began in 1994. Game 7 is believed to be the most-watched NHL game in 45+ years, when different measurement tools were used to record viewership, making it difficult to verify.
The TAD of 8.914 million does not include the numerous large-scale viewership parties in both cities, with some reporting attendance at those events in excess of 40,000.

Fox Sports Ratings Still Increasing With Viewership of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup
A dominant U.S. victory continues the Fox Sports ratings growth streak. The 13-0 U.S. win over Thailand on Fox scores a metered market rating of 2.2/7, up +5% from 2015 U.S. opener (2.1/4) and up +175% from 2011 (0.8/3), according to Nielsen media research. The game delivered the network’s best-metered market rating for any soccer telecast on English-language television since 2018 Men’s FIFA World Cup Final on Fox.

On Telemundo, the broadcast of USA vs. Thailand was the most-watched USA group stage FIFA Women’s World Cup match in Spanish-language television history. Telemundo Deportes’ coverage averaged a Total Audience Delivery of 486,000 viewers, according to fast national data from Nielsen, and digital data from Adobe Analytics.

The U.S. Women’s National Team’s record-setting 13-0 victory delivered 444,000 TV-only viewers on Telemundo, more than doubling viewership for the USWNT’s opening match at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup (203,000 for USA-Australia on Universo). The game reached 1.1 million viewers.

On the digital front, Telemundo Deportes’ digital presentation of the Group Stage match also established a new record as the most live streamed Women’s World Cup match in network history, surpassing last Friday’s France vs. South Korea opening match by almost 100%. To date, Telemundo Deportes’ digital presentation of the Women’s World cup has achieved 78% of the total 2015 digital live streams.

In another group stage match, Fox Sports rating saw another climb after the host country France defeated Norway. The win delivered a +22% increase from 2015 non-U.S. group stage average on Fox, and a +175% increase from 2011 non-U.S. group stage average, according to Nielsen media research

On Twitter, Fox Sports’ FIFA Women’s World Cup Now, scored its best day ever, including all editions of last summer’s program during the men’s tournament, surpassing 500,000 views (521,000) for the first time ever. The 90-in-90 franchise had its best day of the tournament, with 1.1 million views across FOX Sports platforms, up +3% vs. the previous high.

Through match day 10, Fox metered market ratings are up +20% from 2015 group stage average, +77% from 2011 group stage average

U.S. Open final Round Breaks Six-Year Drought
Sunday’s final round of the 2019 U.S. Open Championship is most-watched since 2013 and coverage peaked at over 10 million viewers on Fox.

Following four days of sensational play from a competitive field at Pebble Beach, Gary Woodland clinched his first career major at the 72nd hole of the 119th U.S. Open Championship. The final round on Fox averaged 7.312 million viewers and peaked at 10.167 million viewers from 9:15 to 9:30 PM ET, the best final round performance since 2013, according to Nielsen Media Research. Sunday’s coverage was up +44% year-over-year (2018, 5.088 million) and projects to be the most-watched event of the weekend.
Fox Sports’ fifth presentation of the U.S. Open Championship averaged 3.673 million viewers across all four rounds on Fox and FS1, the most-watched U.S. Open since 2013 and a jump of +28% over 2018 (2.863 million).

Overall, 31.737 million viewers tuned in for all or part of Fox Sports’ presentation of the 2019 U.S. Open Championship, a +11% jump over 2018 (28.577 million). The 2019 U.S. Open accounted for 8.282 billion minutes consumed on the Fox broadcast network and FS1, making it the most-consumed golf event on television, up +30% year-over-year (2018, 6.359 billion).
Fox Sports’ Thursday primetime coverage earned 3,465,000 viewers from 7:30 to 10:30 PM ET, the best first round coverage for a broadcast network since 2002. All four rounds posted year-over-year gains over 2018 for Fox Sports:

  • Thursday, +42% (1.988 vs. 1.404 million, Fox/FS1)
  • Friday, +28% (2.001 vs. 1.561 million, Fox/FS1)
  • Saturday, +12% (4.243 vs. 3.778 million, Fox)
  • Sunday, +44% (7.312 vs. 5.082 million, Fox)

Top markets for Sunday’s final round include the hometown markets of 2019 champion Woodland (Kansas City) and runner up and two-time U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka (West Palm Beach):

  • West Palm (8.4/15)
  • Tampa (8.3/17)
  • Fort Myers (8.1/16)
  • Pittsburgh (7.8/17)
  • Kansas City (7.8/18)

The second-round coverage of the U.S. Open Championship on Fox Sports earned the best viewership since 2012. Fox Sports’ Friday U.S. Open coverage averaged 2,096,000 viewers across Fox and FS1 from 12:30 to 10:30 p.m. ET. Full day telecast was up +34% year-over-year (vs. 2018, 1,561,000). Fox’s primetime coverage earned 2,914,000 viewers from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. eastern time, the best second-round performance on a broadcast network since 2012. FS1’s early second round coverage scored 1,740,000 from 12:30 to 7:30 p.m. eastern time, the best performance for a cable network since 2013

In the first round, the U.S. Open on Fox had its best coverage since 2002. Thursday’s primetime coverage earned 3,465,000 viewers. Airing from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. eastern time on Fox/FS1, up +61% over 2018 (2,153,000). The coverage peaked at about 4 million viewers from 8:00 to 8:15 p.m. eastern time (3,991,000). FS1’s early first-round coverage from 12:30 to 7:30 p.m. eastern time scored 1,380,000 viewers, up +30% over 2018 (1,063,000). FS1’s best first-round performance since 2015 (1,539,000)

NBC’s Makes Viewership History With Outdoor Premier Lacrosse League
The Premier Lacrosse League (PLL) and NBC Sports announced that Sunday’s game (2-4 pm ET) between Chaos LC and Atlas LC from Red Bull Arena averaged a Total Audience Delivery of 412,000 viewers across NBC, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app, making it the most-watched outdoor pro lacrosse game in history and the most-watched pro lacrosse game in 14 years (2005, NLL indoor championship, Toronto-Arizona, 689,000 viewers on NBC).

In addition, Saturday’s Redwoods-Archers game on NBCSN averaged a Total Audience Delivery of 60,000 viewers across NBCSN, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.