Ratings Roundup: 105th Indianapolis 500 Delivers Highest Viewership in Five Years; CBS Sports Sees Most-Watched UEFA Champions League Final Since 2016

Ratings roundup is a rundown of recent rating news and is derived from press releases and reports around the industry. In this week’s edition, the 105th Indianapolis 500 delivers highest viewership in five years, CBS Sports delivers strong numbers for UEFA Champions League Final, and more.

Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 Delivers Highest Viewership in Five Years

Sunday’s 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Presented by Gainbridge ranks as the most-watched Indy 500 in five years averaging a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 5.581 million viewers on NBC — up 51% vs. last year (3.692 million), which was run on Aug. 23 due to the pandemic; and up 2% from NBC’s inaugural broadcast of the race in 2019 (5.489 million).

“The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” (12:48-3:57 pm ET) peaked at 7.129 million TV-only viewers from 3:15-3:30 p.m. ET as Helio Castroneves outdueled Alex Palou in the final laps to win his record-tying fourth Indy 500. The race finished with a 3.15 household rating.

Additional viewership highlights for this year’s Indy 500:

  • Is NBC Sports’ most-watched IndyCar race to date.
  • Ranks as the most-watched sports event of the weekend across all networks.
  • Stands as NBC’s most-watched Sunday afternoon sports event in 16 months, since a Seattle-Philadelphia NFL Wild Card matchup with on Jan. 5, 2020 (36.0 million TAD).
  • Across NBC Sports streaming platforms, this year’s race ranks as the second most-streamed IndyCar race ever with an Average Minute Audience (AMA) of 34,500 viewers, behind only the 2019 Indy 500 (45,600).

Through the first six races of the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES on NBC, NBCSN, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app are averaging a TAD of 1.926 million viewers, the best six-race start to a season in four years (2.046 million; 4 ABC, 2 NBCSN) and up 28% vs. last season’s comparable races (1.504 million viewers). (NBC Sports)

CBS Sports and Paramount+ Deliver Strong Performance Across Multiple Platforms for UEFA Champions League Final

CBS Sports’ coverage of the 2021 UEFA Champions League Final averaged 2.095 million viewers according to Nielsen national ratings, the most-watched UEFA Champions League Final in six years for English-language coverage in the U.S. It also marks the second-best English-language audience for the Final in the past 10 years.

Chelsea’s 1-0 victory over Manchester City generated a viewership increase of +39% versus the 2019 UEFA Champions League Final (Liverpool vs. Tottenham Hotspur, June 1, 2019), the last time the Final was played in May/June. Viewership for Saturday’s match peaked at 2.553 million viewers from 4:45 to 5:00 PM, ET.

Paramount+ registered record viewership as the 2021 UEFA Champions League Final is its most live-streamed non-NFL sporting event ever. UEFA was also a significant subscription acquisition driver for Paramount+ in April and May. Paramount+, a leading destination for U.S. soccer fans, features more than 1,600 live matches each year across an extensive portfolio of soccer properties, including every UEFA men’s club competition match. (ViacomCBS)

NBC Sports Completes Most Extensive and Comprehensive Premier League Presentation Ever in U.S.

NBC Sports’ presentation of the 2020-21 Premier League season was its most extensive and comprehensive ever – featuring 340 match windows and 914 hours of live match and studio coverage on the networks of NBCUniversal and Peacock.

The five Championship Sunday matches on television registered a combined Total Audience Delivery of 1.4 million viewers (does not include the 10 matches streamed on Peacock). Premier League matches on NBC, featuring Sunday’s Liverpool-Crystal Palace match on Sunday in which the Reds secured a Champions League berth, averaged a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 879,000 viewers this season – up 2% from last season.

In addition, eight NBC and NBCSN matches averaged a TAD of at least 1 million viewers – tying for the most audiences of 1 million in five years, since the 2015-16 season.

NBC Sports Group averaged a Total Audience Delivery of 414,000 viewers per match window for the 2020-21 season (does not include Peacock streaming or Spanish-language telecasts).

Premier League Viewership Highlights

  • NBC Sports posted its most-watched Boxing Day (Dec. 26, 2020) ever with a Total Audience Delivery average of 664,000 viewers for four matches across NBC and NBCSN.
    • NBC’s 12:30 p.m. ET Arsenal-Chelsea match was the most-watched Boxing Day match ever with a TAD of 1.2 million viewers.
  • NBCSN registered a Total Audience Delivery average of 1.06 million viewers for the Feb. 7 Liverpool-Manchester City match – ranking as the second-most watched Premier League cable match ever in U.S. TV history (Manchester Derby, 1.16 million viewers on Apr. 12, 2015 on NBCSN).
  • In 2021, NBCSN delivered the two most-watched February cable matches in the history of the Premier League on U.S. TV: Liverpool-Manchester City on Feb. 7 (1.06 million viewers) and Chelsea-Manchester United on Feb. 28 (828,000 viewers).
  • The Dec. 12, 2020 Manchester Derby posted a Total Audience Delivery average of 1.2 million viewers across NBC, Telemundo and NBC Sports Digital, ranking as the second-most watched fall Manchester Derby on record in the U.S.
  • More than 1 billion minutes of NBC Sports’ Premier League coverage was consumed on the NBC Sports YouTube channel– a single-season record.
  • The seven most-engaged posts (and eight of the top 10) in @NBCSportsSoccer Instagram history came during the 2020-21 season.
  • The 2 Robbies and Premier League on NBC podcasts delivered a season-record 127 episodes and had a 21% increase in downloads from last season.
  • The free-to-play game Premier League Pick ‘Em continued to help grow the NBC Sports Predictor app userbase to more than 1.7 million fans, who have made over 27 million contest entries since the platform’s launch in December 2018.

Following are the U.S. TV markets with the highest average season-long ratings on Premier League telecasts on NBC/NBCSN, and NBC only (note: all NBC games, other than on “Championship Sunday,” started at 12:30 pm ET/9:30 am PT or later, while some NBCSN games kicked off as early as 7 am ET/4 am PT):

Top 15 Local Market Ratings, NBC/NBCSN

1. Philadelphia
2. Washington, D.C.
3. Seattle
4. Baltimore
5. San Diego
6. Cincinnati
7. New York
8. Norfolk
9. Minneapolis
10. Chicago
11. New Orleans
12. Las Vegas
13. Tampa
14. San Francisco
15. Hartford

Top 15 Local Market Ratings, NBC only

1. New Orleans
2. Seattle
3. Las Vegas
4. Greenville
5. Cincinnati
6. Fort Myers
7. Washington, D.C.
8. San Diego
9. Norfolk
10. Baltimore
11. Philadelphia
12. Albuquerque
13. San Francisco
14. Houston
15. Chicago (NBC Sports)

WNBA’s ESPN Viewership Up 74% After Five Games of 2021 Season

ESPN has revealed that viewership of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) has been up significantly during the early weeks of the 2021 regular season. The league’s fixtures were averaging 357,000 viewers across ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 after the first five games of the current campaign, which is the WNBA’s 25th season.

According to ESPN, the audience figure represents a rise of 74% on the average for the entire 2020 season and an increase of 45% compared to the average viewership during the 2019 campaign.

WNBA 2021 commercial guide: Every franchise, every sponsor, all the major TV deals

The latest figures continue a positive start to the season for the WNBA, which saw record ratings in Canada during its opening weekend, including a 325% increase in average viewership.

The WNBA’s Covid-disrupted 2020 regular season averaged 205,000 viewers across ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC, a drop of 16% on the previous year. However, the average viewership for the finals increased 15% to 440,000.

In addition to ESPN, this year’s WNBA games are being broadcast on Amazon Prime Video for the first time. Saturday’s inaugural fixture on the streaming service saw the Atlanta Dream secure a thrilling 90-87 win over the New York Liberty in overtime. (SportsPro Media)

Phil’s Major Surprise Lifts PGA Championship to Three-Year High

Phil Mickelson’s stunning win at the PGA Championship gave the event its highest ratings since Tiger Woods’ near-miss three years ago. Final round coverage of the PGA Championship, in which Mickelson become the oldest major golf champion in history at age 50, averaged a 3.9 rating and 6.58 million viewers on CBS — the highest rating and viewership for the event since Tiger Woods finished second in 2018 (5.4, 8.47M).

Ratings increased 19% and viewership 28% from last year, when the event took place in August (3.3, 5.15M) and 19% and 31% respectively from 2019, when it previously took place in May (3.3, 5.01M).

Mickelson’s win, which peaked with 13.05 million from 7-7:15 PM ET, delivered the second-largest golf audience of any kind since the sport went on hiatus last year, behind the final round of this year’s April Masters (5.5, 9.45M) and ahead of the final round of last year’s November Masters (3.4, 5.59M).

It was also the top sporting event of the weekend, topping the competing Lakers-Suns NBA playoff game on ABC (2.4, 4.43M). The NBA game won the head-to-head in adults 18-49 (1.90M to 1.45M), 18-34 (818K to 528K) and 25-54 (1.99M to 1.78M), but the PGA dominated in the 50+ demo in which Mickelson resides (4.93M to 2.16M).

Third round coverage on Saturday averaged a 2.3 and 3.81 million, up 10% in ratings and 16% in viewership from last year (2.1, 3.28M) and the highest since 2018 (3.2, 4.78M). In the fast-nationals released by CBS on Sunday, the third round averaged 3.52 million. Keep in mind fast-nationals do not include out-of-home viewing, meaning an out-of-home lift of 8% for Saturday’s telecast.

The increases are no small feat given last year’s PGA Championship was contested on the West Coast and bled into primetime. It also included Tiger Woods.

Lead-in coverage on ESPN averaged a 0.8 (-38%) and 1.23 million (-37%) on Sunday and a 0.8 (-41%) and 1.20 million (-41%) on Saturday. Keep in mind last year’s windows aired later in the day and included Woods.

In other ESPN action, Friday’s second round pulled a 0.9 and 1.43 million — down 24% in ratings and 20% in viewership from last year (1.2, 1.80M) and the smallest audience for the round since 2018 (1.38M). (SportsMediaWatch)

ESPN’s live telecast of the tournament’s opening round averaged 1,179,627 viewers, an 18% increase in viewership over the last comparable playing of the event in an East Coast location in 2019.

ESPN’s telecast, which ran from 1-8:17 p.m. ET, peaked at 1.4 million viewers between 5:45-6 p.m. Viewership was up 18% from the 2019 first-round telecast on TNT, which averaged 1,001,472 from Bethpage Black in Farmingdale, N.Y., the last time the PGA Championship was played on the East Coast, and in May, and aired at comparable times.
Last year, with the event moved to August due to the pandemic and played in San Francisco, it aired well into East Coast prime time and ESPN averaged 1,271,050 viewers for the first round telecast. (ESPN)

Univision’s Telecast of the Second Leg of Liga MX Final Draws Largest Soccer Audience on Any Network Since 2019 Gold Cup

Univision’s TUDN’s, the home of soccer in the U.S. and the multimedia sports brand of Univision Communications Inc., telecast of the decisive second leg of the Liga MX finale scored huge numbers on Sunday night with the match delivering the most-watched soccer match in nearly two years and the top-rated club soccer game on any network since December 2013, when America faced León in the Liga MX Apertura Final on Univision.

Kicking off at 9 p.m. ET on Univision, the match averaged 3 million Total Viewers 2+ and 1.8 million Adults 18-49, and peaked during the 11 p.m. ET quarter hour with 3.7 million Total Viewers 2+ and 2.2 million Adults 18-49 tuning in to see Cruz Azul crowned Liga MX champions for the first time since 1997.

The contest delivered double-digit increases among Total Viewers 2+ (+23%) and Adults 18-49 (+39%) compared to last year’s Apertura Final featuring Pumas vs. León. (Univision)

F1 Monaco GP Up Despite Airing on ESPN2

The 2021 Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix averaged a 0.6 rating and 934,000 viewers on ESPN2, marking the largest live audience for the event since it last aired on broadcast network NBC in 2017. Viewership increased 1% from the last time the race was held in 2019 (925K) and 14% from 2018 (820K), both of which aired on the ESPN flagship.

Max Verstappen’s win delivered the fourth-largest F1 audience ever on cable. An encore presentation on ABC averaged a 0.49 and 763,000 later Sunday, flat and up 8% respectively from ’19 (0.49, 705K). (SportsMediaWatch)

NASCAR Coke 600 Posts Slight Viewer Bump

Last Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race from Charlotte averaged a 2.3 rating and 4.06 million viewers on FOX, down a tick in ratings but up 2% in viewership from last year, when the race faced zero competing live sporting events but finished after Midnight ET due to rain, and down 12% and 5% respectively from 2019 (2.6, 4.26M).

Kyle Larson’s win, which peaked with 4.8 million viewers, was no match for the Indianapolis 500 earlier in the day (5.58M*). The 500 has now outdrawn the 600 the last six times they have occurred on the same day.

The race did top all-but-one of the weekend’s eight NBA playoff games, exact figures for which were not immediately available.

Historically, the 2.3 rating is tied as the lowest for the race since at least 1997, while viewership exceeded only last year as the lowest since at least 2000. This year marked just the second time in a decade that viewership increased for the 600, which back in ’11 had a 4.5 rating and 8.13 million viewers.

For the season, the Coke 600 ranks sixth in viewership out of the nine regularly scheduled races on FOX, ahead of Phoenix (3.86M), Atlanta (3.72M) and Richmond (3.32M). A tenth race, Bristol, was postponed to a Monday due to rain.

In other NASCAR action, the Xfinity Series race at Charlotte averaged a 0.59 and 999,000 on FS1, peaking at 1.16 million — the largest audience for the race on cable since 2016 (1.41M). The Truck Series race there pulled a 0.37 and 614,000. (SportsMediaWatch)

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Golden State Warriors Play-In Game Most-Watched NBA Telecast on ESPN Since 2019 Western Conference Finals: 5,618,000 Viewers

ESPN’s exclusive telecast of the Los Angeles Lakers vs. Golden State Warriors game generated 5,618,000 viewers, making it the largest audience for an NBA game on ESPN since the 2019 Western Conference Finals, according to Nielsen. The telecast peaked with 6,149,000 viewers on ESPN from 12:30-1 a.m. ET.

The Lakers vs. Warriors game, part of the State Farm NBA Play-In Tournament and widely-regarded as an instant classic, was up 190% from the single Play-In game on ABC last season. It was the second-most watched NBA game of the 2020-21 season across all networks, only behind the Los Angeles Lakers vs. Dallas Mavericks Christmas Day game simulcast on ABC and ESPN. It won the night across all of television in every key sales demo.

In addition, ESPN’s early game last night, featuring the Memphis Grizzlies vs. San Antonio Spurs, delivered an average audience of 2,293,000 viewers, making it the third-most watched NBA game on ESPN of the 2020-21 season.

ESPN’s State Farm NBA Play-In Tournament coverage continues with the final Western Conference game on Friday, May 21, at 9 p.m. ET as the Golden State Warriors square off with the Memphis Grizzlies for the final spot in the Western Conference NBA Playoffs. (ESPN)

ESPN Generates Second-Largest Audience of Season for Memphis Grizzlies vs. Golden State Warriors State Farm NBA Play-In Tournament Game

ESPN generated its second-largest audience of the 2020-21 NBA season for Friday’s telecast of the Memphis Grizzlies vs. Golden State Warriors State Farm NBA Play-In Tournament game. The telecast averaged 3,633,000 viewers and won the night in prime time across all of television, including in every key adult and male demo, according to Nielsen.

ESPN’s three State Farm NBA Play-In Tournament game telecasts averaged 3,842,000 viewers, up 99% from the single Western Conference play-in game on ABC in 2020. Friday’s Grizzlies vs. Warriors telecast trailed only the Lakers vs. Warriors game telecast on May 19 as ESPN’s most-watched NBA game of the 2020-21 season.

ESPN’s 2021 NBA Playoffs coverage continues with seven games this weekend between Friday, May 28 and Sunday, May 30. More information on the schedule and coverage plans will be announced on May 25.  (ESPN)

League of Legends First To Reach 40B All-Time Views On Twitch As of May 2021

League of Legends (LoL) reached an important milestone in the world of online video game streaming. According to data presented by Safe Betting Sites, League of Legends became the first game to reach over 40B all-time views on Twitch as of May 2021.

Twitch has racked up hundreds of billions of views since its launch. The top five games on the platform account for almost 115 billion all-time views globally as of May 2021. The most viewed game on the platform is LoL with 40.67B all-time views globally.

Battle-Royale sensation, Fortnite is second on the list with 24.24B views, while CS:GO (18.34B), DOTA 2(16.47B) and GTA V(15.19B) make up the rest of the top 5 games on Twitch. For the month of May 2021, GTA V was the leading game on Twitch by share of average viewers worldwide with 11.4% while LoL is second with 8.7%.

In terms of followers, Fortnite is the most followed game on the platform with more than 74M followers on Twitch while GTA V had 45.24 followers just ahead of GTA Online at 45.2M followers. The most followed team on the platform is PUBG Partners with 91.5M. The most popular Twitch channel globally by peak all-time concurrent viewers is TheGrefg with a record peak of 2.39M concurrent viewers in 2021. (SafeBettingSites)

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