Ratings Roundup: 14.3 Million Viewers Soak in USWNT FIFA Women’s World Cup Repeat

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 FIFA Women’s World Cup delivers great ratings for Fox Sports and Telemundo for semifinals and final matches, Friday’s NBA Summer League telecast on ESPN is the highest-rated ever across networks, Game 3 of the NCAA College World Series matches the 2018 record for viewership, the Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix sets ratings records, and ESPN racked up a successful June for their efforts in the studio.

14.3 Million Witness USWNT Complete FIFA Women’s World Cup Repeat
Sunday’s exciting USA 2-0 win over the Netherlands in the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019 final delivered 14,271,000 viewers, peaking at nearly 20 million, across Fox and streaming services, making it the most-watched soccer match on English-language television in the U.S. since the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup final.

Scoring nearly 14 million viewers on Fox alone, the match peaked at 19,595,000 and out-performed the men’s 2018 FIFA World Cup final by +22% (11,441,000). Sunday’s final also was +4% higher than the 2011 final, the last time the FIFA Women’s World Cup was played in a comparable European time zone.

Overall, household ratings for the complete FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019 posted a +2% increase over full tournament ratings for 2015 and are up +11% over the full 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup. During the tournament, the U.S. victory over France was the most-watched FIFA Women’s World Cup quarterfinal ever, and USA’s win over Chile was the most-watched FIFA Women’s World Cup™ group stage match ever.

Across streaming platforms, Sunday’s match delivered an average minute audience of 289,000 viewers, making it the most-streamed FIFA Women’s World Cup final in history, up +402% over the same match in 2015.

It was also a record day for Fox Sports social media, which measured 17.8 million views across platforms for the FIFA Women’s World Cup final, out-pacing the 2018 men’s final by 18% with both Twitter and YouTube setting new daily records for the tournament.

Through the complete tournament, Fox Sports garnered nearly one billion minutes of FIFA Women’s World Cup digital content consumed across Fox platforms.

On Telemundo Deportes, the final delivered a Total Audience Delivery average of 1.6 million viewers, ranking as the most-watched FIFA Women’s World Cup match in Spanish-language history, surpassing by 22% the 2015 USA vs. Japan final (1.27 million). The match peaked at 2.03 million TV-only viewers on Telemundo from 12:45-1 p.m. ET as the match concluded. The game reached 2.8 million viewers.

Locally, the FIFA Women’s World Cup final match was No.1 Spanish-language TV in all 15 Telemundo-owned station LPM markets among adults 18-49. The top five Spanish-language markets for the USA-Netherlands game among adults 18-49 included Miami-Fort Lauderdale (WSCV), Los Angeles (KVEA), Dallas (KXTX), Houston (KTMD), and New York (WNJU).
In addition, Telemundo Deportes set the Spanish-language record for the most-watched FIFA Women’s World Cup ever, with a Total Audience Delivery average of 301,000 viewers – posting a 27% increase over the full 2015 tournament (237,000 viewers).

Other highlights include:

  • Telemundo Deportes’ coverage of the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019 yielded a Total Audience Delivery average of 301,000 viewers, a 27% increase over 2015.
  • Led by the USWNT, Telemundo Deportes’ coverage delivered four of the five most-watched FIFA Women’s World Cup matches in Spanish-language history:
    • USA vs. Netherlands 7/7/19 1.6 Million viewers
    • USA vs. Japan 7/5/15 1.3 Million viewers
    • England vs. USA 7/2/19 1.0 Million viewers
    • USA vs. Chile 6/16/19 833,000 viewers
    • Netherlands vs. Sweden 7/3/19 766,000 viewers
  • On digital, the tournament delivered a record-setting of 35.3 million minutes across Telemundo Deportes’ digital videos.
  • Digital live streams through the tournament were close to eight times that of the entire 2015 tournament – excluding matches that were shown only on digital platforms in 2015.

Prior to the final match, the semifinals mid-day match delivered 7,386,000 viewers across Fox and streaming sources. The 2-1 U.S. win over England scored 7,025,000 viewers. and peaked at more than 9 million viewers. On digital, the average minute audience hit 361,000 and social media content scored 12.4 million total views. For Telemundo Deportes, the network averaged a Total Audience Delivery of 1.02 million viewers across Telemundo, NBCSN, TelemundoDeportes.com, the Telemundo Deportes app, and the NBC Sports app. In addition, Telemundo Deportes’ digital presentation scored 46% more live streams than the second-most live streamed game (Round of 16, US-Spain).

NBA Summer League Soars on ESPN
ESPN generated the highest-rated NBA Summer League game ever across networks on Friday night, according to Nielsen. The telecast featuring Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans vs. R.J. Barrett and the New York Knicks drew a record 1.2 metered market rating on ESPN, up 33% from the previous record set in 2017 between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics, which was Lonzo Ball’s expected debut.

Additionally, last night’s telecast was up 200% from last year’s comparable game – the Dallas Mavericks vs. the Phoenix Suns – which delivered a 0.4 metered market rating.

The top five local markets for Friday’s Pelicans vs. Knicks game were New Orleans (7.0), Memphis (3.0), Norfolk (2.4), Raleigh-Durham (2.3) and Greensboro (1.9). The ESPN telecast generated a 1.8 in the New York market.

Two Million Tune into Vanderbilt’s Game 3 Win in College World Series
The winner-take-all Game 3 of the 2019 NCAA College World Series saw more than 2 million viewers tune in to watch the Vanderbilt Commodores defeat the Michigan Wolverines and capture their second NCAA title in six years. The game’s 2,020,596 viewers, up +7% year-over-year, resulted in the most-watched baseball game on ESPN in 2019 and the most-watched Game 3 since 2014.

The opening game of the best-of-three College World Series Finals earned a total live audience of 1,890,036 viewers, up 4% year-over-year and besting 2018’s opener, which was then the best viewership for a Finals opener since 2014, based on Nielsen reporting numbers.

Both the College World Series and the CWS Finals in 2019 were on par with 2018’s record-setting run, as 1,133,346 viewers on average watched the action in Omaha this year. The CWS Finals averaged 1,961,000 viewers over three games, matching 2018’s three-game finals which saw Oregon State take home the trophy over Arkansas.

The three-game CWS Finals boasted the top three viewership totals over the two weeks in Omaha. The Michigan Wolverines and the Florida State Seminoles, two of the final four teams into the NCAA Tournament bracket, accounted for the top five viewership totals in Omaha:

  • Wed, Jun 26 Michigan vs. Vanderbilt ESPN 2,020,596
  • Tue, Jun 25 Vanderbilt vs. Michigan ESPN 1,976,753
  • Mon, Jun 24 Michigan vs. Vanderbilt ESPN 1,890,036
  • Mon, Jun 17 Florida State vs. Michigan ESPN 1,288,758
  • Wed, Jun 19 Texas Tech vs. Florida State ESPN 1,245,936

ESPN’s Coverage of the Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix
The live telecast of the Formula 1 myWorld Austrian Grand Prix on ESPN2 on Sunday, June 30, earned the largest U.S. television viewership for the event since it returned to the F1 schedule in 1997.

With an average of 640,000 viewers, the audience was up 48% over ESPN2’s telecast last year (431,000 average) and up 94% from the telecast on CNBC in 2017 (330,000 viewers). In ESPN’s second season since returning to live F1 race coverage, it was the seventh time this year in nine F1 races that viewership has grown year-over-year, and the second-largest year-over-year growth for a race this season.

Through nine races, F1 is averaging 684,000 viewers per race on ESPN networks, an increase of 21% over last year (567,000) and up 18% over NBC networks in 2017 (579,000).

The Austrian Grand Prix telecast started at 9:05 a.m. and the audience peaked at 776,000 viewers between 10:30-10:45 a.m. as Max Verstappen headed toward his first win of the season after a late-race battle for the lead with Charles Leclerc

F1 fans also tuned in for ESPN2’s live telecast of qualifying on Saturday – the average of 342,000 viewers was up 33% over the audience for qualifying in 2018.

ESPN Studio Shows Enjoy Success in June
In June, ESPN grew its audience average 12% year over year during the daily 7 a.m.-7 p.m. window contributing to a 24-hour year-over-year increase of 5% overall to 518,000 viewers and leading cable among young men.

ESPN led full-time cable networks among viewers and men 18-34 (for at least the 20th consecutive June), 18-49 and 25-54. In prime time, ESPN averaged just over a million viewers and was best among men 18-49 and men 25-54. For the quarter, ESPN topped all full-time cable networks among viewers 18-34, men 18-34 (for at least the 20th straight quarter), men 18-49 and men 25-54.

ESPN’s morning studio show lineup saw another month of year-over-year growth in June with multiple wins across key cable demographics. Get Up! continued its monthly viewership success with a 21% increase over the comparable 8-10 a.m. timeslot in 2018. The 7 a.m. edition of SportsCenter was up 9% in June from the comparable one-hour window last year, according to Nielsen.

June marked the fourth consecutive month of annual increases for both shows which combined to drive ESPN to cable wins across multiple demographics including viewers 18-49. For the second quarter of 2019, Get Up! and the 7 a.m. SportsCenter saw 24% and 14% yearly viewership increases, respectively.

First Take experienced its third straight month of year-over-year viewership growth, up 6% over 2018. The noon SportsCenter also climbed 10% in June over the comparable 12-1 p.m. window in 2018.

The two shows combined led ESPN to cable wins across all key male demos from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.First Take saw a 5% yearly increase for the second quarter with the noon edition of SportsCenter climbing 3% for the timeframe. From 10 a.m.-noon, driven by First Take, ESPN remains the top network (cable or broadcast) among the men 18-34 demographic for the seventh consecutive month.

The success continued across ESPN’s news and information programming with Outside the Lines seeing multiple areas of annual viewership growth including 9% for June and 3% for the quarter. The 6 p.m. edition of SportsCenter continued the trend with a 4% and 1% increase for the month and quarter, respectively. SportsCenter’s weekend morning editions also combined for a 9% annual increase in June and 3% growth for the quarter.

Pardon the Interruption enjoyed its third consecutive month of viewership growth, seeing a 10% increase in June. Leading off the 5-6 p.m. window, Around the Horn saw a year-over-year increase of 7%. Pardon the Interruption was up 8% for the quarter, with Around the Horn seeing a 3% rise.

ESPN’s sport-specific programming thrived as well with The Jump and NFL Live both seeing year-over-year viewership increases for the month. The Jump’s viewership average increased by 4% with NFL Live climbing 2%.