Ratings Roundup: Sunday Night Football Hits Lowest Ratings Valley in Week 2 Since 2007

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, NBC Sports leads NFL Week 2 ratings without a dive in numbers this week, college football rolls on, and Fox Sports’ recent episode of PBC Fight Camp becomes the most-watched in 2019.

Sunday Night Football Scores Lowest Week 2 Number in 12 Years
According to SportsMediaWatch (SMW), NBC Sports’ Eagles vs. Falcons matchup did not resonate with many NFL fans. The game averaged a 10.3 rating and 17.64 million viewers on NBC’s Sunday Night Football over the weekend, marking the lowest-rated and least-watched Week 2 edition of SNF since 2007 (Chargers-Patriots: 9.8, 15.32M). The previous lows were a 10.8 and 17.84 million for Steelers-Browns in 2008.

Atlanta’s narrow win declined 12% in ratings and 15% in viewership from Giants-Cowboys last year (11.7, 20.66M) and 9% and 13% respectively from Packers-Falcons in 2017 (11.3, 20.24M).

Of the Falcons’ last fourteen primetime games (dating back to 2014), 11 have declined in ratings and 12 have declined in viewership. The exceptions are their Thanksgiving night loss to the Saints last season, a Super Bowl 51 rematch against New England in 2017, and the 2014 Monday Night Football opener against the Eagles.

Philadelphia led all markets for Sunday’s game with a 32.6 rating and a 51 share (meaning 51% of TVs in use were tuned to the game). Atlanta ranked a distant second with a 22.3/40. New Orleans was the top neutral market (19.6/28), with Milwaukee (15.4/26) and Albuquerque, N.M. (15.3/26) rounding out the top five…

…The first Thursday Night Football game didn’t fare much better. Buccaneers-Panthers averaged a 4.1 rating and 6.64 million viewers on NFL Network, marking the lowest-rated and least-watched TNF opener since 2011, when the series did not debut until Week 10 (Raiders-Chargers: 3.3, 5.28M) (SMW)

Tampa Bay’s win declined a tick in ratings and 5% in viewership from Ravens-Bengals last year (4.2, 7.02M), and 16% and 18% respectively from Texans-Bengals in 2017 (4.9, 8.08M)…

…On Fox, America’s Game of the Week featuring a Los Angeles Rams win over the New Orleans Saints delivered 23,336,000 viewers, which was Sunday’s most-watched telecast for the second consecutive week and up +11% over last year’s comparable window (21,029,000 viewers). So far, the NFL on Fox is averaging 19,081,000 viewers to make this start the best since 2016. Compared to last year, the numbers are up +7 (17,865,000 viewers)…

Monday Night Football on ESPN – a 23-3 Cleveland Browns win over the New York Jets – averaged 11.9 million viewers across ESPN and ESPN Deportes, according to Nielsen.

The telecast helped ESPN win the night among all networks, broadcast or cable, in households, viewers and all key male and adult demos (12-17, 18-34, 18-49, 25-54, 55+). MNF was also the highest-rated telecast of the night across all broadcast and cable networks among the same demos (except 55+). ESPN Deportes also added 111,000 viewers. Through three games, MNF’s average audience of 12,164,000 viewers is up 14% season-to-date (10,700,000 in 2018).

In Cleveland, the game delivered a 13.2 rating on ESPN and a 27.2 rating on WKYC-NBC, for a combined 40.4 rating. As for New York, it delivered a 6.9 rating on ESPN and a 3.6 on WPIX-CW, for a combined 10.5 rating. Nationally, the top 10 metered markets included Columbus (18.5), New Orleans (16.1), Dayton, Ohio (15.3), Buffalo (13.3), West Palm Beach (13.3), Pittsburgh (12.4), Jacksonville (11.2), Oklahoma City (11.1), Cincinnati (10.9), and San Diego (10.9)…

…CBS Sports’ second singleheader week of the 2019 NFL season was up +27% in viewership averaging 15.244 million viewers versus its comparable second singleheader week last year (11.984 million).

The NFL on CBS also earned a ratings increase of +27% with an 8.9/22 average national household rating/share compared to a 7.0/17 last year in Week 3 (9/23/18), which was the Network’s comparable second singleheader week.

Sunday’s viewership and rating is The NFL on CBS’ most-watched and highest-rated second singleheader week of the season since 2016 (16.446 million viewers; 9.4/21 rating/share; on 10/2/16).

The two singleheaders-to-date on CBS in 2019 are averaging 15.311 million viewers (P2+), up +4% versus last year’s 14.683 million; and are up +6% with an 8.9/22 average HH rating/share versus last year’s 8.4/20. This year is the best performance for the first two singleheaders of the season on CBS since 2016 (16.243 million; 9.3/21).

ESPN Runs the Table in Latest Slate of College Football
ABC and ESPN continued its big start to the college football season in week 3, as this week ABC aired the most-watched game in the noon window and the two networks combined to air the two most-watched primetime games. Amongst all games and timeslots, the two networks aired three of the four most-watched games and ESPN set a multi-year viewership high for a Friday night game. The success included College GameDay Built by The Home Depot, as the 11-time Emmy winning show continues to grow its viewership year-over-year, both on a weekly and seasonal basis.

Pittsburgh at Penn State on ABC was the most-watched noon game window of the week across all networks and second most-watched game of the season in the timeslot. The ESPN CFB150 Showcase Game averaged 3,196,000 viewers, including a peak audience of 4.2 million viewers (3:45-3:56 p.m.). The 100th meeting between the schools resonated in the state, as Pittsburgh was the top market with 13.4 local rating followed by Philadelphia with a 6.8.

ESPN and ABC combined for more than 7.1 million viewers in primetime, as the two networks led all telecasts – sports and non-sports — in primetime viewers on Saturday night. ABC’s Saturday Night Football between Clemson and Syracuse (7:30 p.m.) delivered 3,618,000 viewers and ESPN’s Florida at Kentucky (7 p.m.) averaged 3,137,000 viewers. Breaking the audience down further, both networks ranked first or second among all viewers and key male, female and adult demos (18-34, 18-49, 25-54).

ABC’s Saturday Night Football has now “won the night” among viewers all three Saturday nights of the college football season (Aug. 31, Sept. 7, Sept. 14 ) and is up 27% year-over-year. Combining week 0 (Aug. 24), ESPN’s networks have ‘Won the Night’ four consecutive Saturday nights. Factoring in the entire five-day Kickoff Weekend (Aug. 29 – Sept. 2), college football has led ESPN’s nets to “Win the Night” night six times this season. No other network has “Won the Night” this college football season.

College GameDay (9 a.m. – noon) averaged 1,753,000 viewers for its first trip to Ames, Iowa, up 3% from last year’s week 3 show. Overall, the show is up 3% from last year.

ESPN’s Washington State vs. Houston (9 p.m.) telecast averaged 2,072,000 viewers, setting a multi-year high for a cable telecast on Friday night. The AdvoCare Texas Kickoff is ESPN’s most-watched Friday night game since October of 2017 (excluding Black Friday telecast). Overall, ESPN’s Friday night telecasts are up 51% this season.

PBC Fight Camp on Fox Sports
Saturday night’s PBC Fight Camp: Errol Spence Jr. vs. Shawn Porter Ep. 2 scored 664,000 viewers on Fox, according to Nielsen Media Research, becoming the best performance of a PBC Fight Camp telecast in 2019. The episode was up +8% over PBC Fight Camp: Manny Pacquiao vs. Keith Thurman Ep. 2 (612,000 viewers on 7/7/2019). It was also up +10% over last week’s PBC Countdown. (605,000 on 9/7/2019)