Ratings Roundup: Most-Viewed Women’s College World Series in History Averages 1.2 Million Viewers; Numbers from the 2021 NBA Playoffs
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, Women’s College World Series ratings are up from 2019’s tournament, Fox Sports recorded the most-watched Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show since 2016, and more.
Women’s Championships Cap Impressive Season of Growth Across ESPN Networks With Women’s College World Series
The conclusion of the 2021 Women’s College World Series marked an impressive season of growth for women’s sports championship events on ESPN networks. This spring, the NCAA Women’s Final Four, NCAA Gymnastics, NCAA Women’s Volleyball, NCAA Women’s College Cup and the NCAA Women’s College World Series all boasted increases in viewership over their 2019 championship counterparts, some even reaching record audiences.
This year’s Women’s College World Series (WCWS) NCAA Softball Championship was the most-viewed ever, averaging 1,203,000 viewers, up 10% over the 2019 WCWS. The three-game Championship Series between No. 1 Oklahoma and No.10 Florida State averaged 1,840,000 viewers, up 15% over the 2019 Championship Series.
The opening day of the tournament featured a quadruple-header which registered the most-watched opening day since 2009, averaging 755,000 average viewers per game. The day’s lineup was highlighted by unseeded James Madison’s historic upset of No. 1 seed and eventual national champion Oklahoma. The game averaged 620,000 viewers, up 20% over 2019’s Game 1 – the most-viewed Game 1 on record. (ESPN)
NBA Playoff Ratings
Sunday’s Suns-Nuggets NBA second round Game 4 averaged a 2.25 rating and 4.22 million viewers on TNT, marking the largest audience of the second round thus far (through Monday). Ratings and viewership fell 22% from the comparable window in the “bubble” last year, but that was a Laker game on ABC (2.9, 5.43M). Compared to 2019 (Nuggets-Blazers), ratings fell 9% (from 2.5) but viewership increased 4% (from 4.06M). The Suns’ series-clinching win ranks fifth for the playoffs overall. The Suns have played in four of the top five games, with the caveat that three of those came against the Lakers.
Earlier in the day, Nets-Bucks Game 4 averaged 4.03 million viewers on ABC — up 13% from the “bubble” (Bucks-Heat: 3.58M) but down 13% from 2019 (Raptors-Sixers: 4.63M). ABC also drew 4.11 million for Jazz-Clippers Game 3 on Saturday night, up 39% from Nuggets-Clippers on TNT last year (2.96M) but down 43% from Warriors-Rockets on ABC in ’19 (7.23M).
In other action, Suns-Nuggets Game 3 averaged 3.96 million on ESPN Friday night — down 2% from Rockets-Lakers Game 1 in the “bubble” (4.04M) but up 8% from the four-overtime Nuggets-Blazers Game 3 in ’19 (3.65M).
Sixers-Hawks Game 3 pulled 3.51 million earlier in the night, up 58% from the “bubble (Bucks-Heat: 2.22M) but down 13% from ’19 (Bucks-Celtics: 4.06M).
Game 4 of that series pulled 3.89 million on TNT Monday, per John Ourand of Sports Business Journal, up 44% from the “bubble (Celtics-Raptors Game 5: 2.71M) and up 5% from ’19 (Bucks-Celtics: 3.72M).
The Jazz-Clippers nightcap drew 3.35 million, actually down 3% from the “bubble (Clippers-Nuggets: 3.45M) and down 52% from Warriors-Rockets in ’19 (6.97M). It delivered the second-smallest audience of the second round, ahead of only Bucks-Nets Game 2. Not coincidentally, both of those games were particularly uncompetitive routs. (SportsMediaWatch)
Back in the First Round, ABC’s coverage of the LA Clippers victory over the Dallas Mavericks in Game 7 generated an average audience of 5,489,000 viewers. It is the most-watched first round game of the 2021 NBA Playoffs, according to Nielsen. The broadcast peaked with 7,205,000 viewers from 6-6:15 p.m. ET.
Game 7 won the day across all of television in key adult and male demos, including 18-34, 18-49 and 25-54. Overall, ESPN and ABC combined to average 3,389,000 viewers for its first round NBA Playoffs coverage, up 49 percent vs. the 2020 first round and up four percent from the 2019 first round. This includes Play-In Tournament viewership. In addition, NBA games on ESPN and ABC were the most viewed telecasts of the day in the key male and adult demos on all seven days that these platforms aired games in the first round. (ESPN)
Fox Sports Records Most-Watched Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show Since 2016
Fox Sports recorded the most-watched telecast of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show since 2016, as 2,479,000 viewers tuned in to see Wasabi the Pekingese named Best in Show.This edition was the most-watched Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show telecast since 2016, with a +127% increase over 2020. (Fox Sports)
ESPN Sunday Night Baseball Viewership Up 31 Percent from 2020 Full Season Average
ESPN’s MLB showcase is averaging 1,616,000 viewers on the season. Games are also up 7+ from 2019 through the same 11-week mark. As for individual demographics, women ad youth audiences are experiencing double digit increases over 2020.
French Open Singles Finals Up From Last Year’s Delayed Tournament
Sunday’s Novak Djokovic-Stefanos Tsitsipas French Open men’s final averaged 1.9 million viewers on NBC, up 19% from last year’s months-delayed October final (Rafael Nadal-Djokovic: 1.58M) and up 6% from the last time the final aired as scheduled in 2019 (Nadal-Dominic Them: 1.79M).
Djokovic’s five-set win ranks as the most-watched French Open men’s final since 2016 (2.00M).
The Djokovic-Nadal semifinal on Friday averaged 1.1 million across NBC and NBCSN, the largest audience for a men’s semifinal since 2013.
In other action, the Barbora Krejcikova-Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova women’s final averaged just 954,000 on NBC Saturday morning — up 25% from an all-time low of 763,000 for Iga Świątek-Sofia Kenin last October, but down 8% from Ashleigh Barty-Markéta Vondroušová in ’19. (SportsMediaWatch)
NASCAR All-Star Race Hits Four-Year Gigh; SRX, IndyCar Numbers
Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race from Texas averaged a 1.6 rating and 2.74 million viewers on FS1, the largest audience for the event since 2017 (2.87M). The race, which peaked at 2.9 million viewers, increased 29% in ratings and 32% in viewership from last year’s rescheduled, midweek edition from Bristol (1.3, 2.08M). Compared to 2019, the last time the All-Star Race took place in May from Charlotte, ratings and viewership increased 17% and 12% respectively (from 1.4, 2.44M).
In other NASCAR action, the Xfinity Series from Texas averaged a 0.61 and 957,000 — down slightly from last year on NBCSN (0.63, 973K) — and the Truck Series event there drew a 0.40 (+38%) and 625,000 (+40%).
Shifting to other series, the debut of the SRX averaged 1.30 million on CBS Saturday night. Outside of the NASCAR Cup Series, that ranks as the fifth-largest motorsports audience this year — behind the Indy 500, NASCAR Xfinity Series at Daytona (1.61M) and Talladega (1.60M) and Sunday’s IndyCar Detroit Grand Prix on NBC, which aired in a shortened window due to the French Open (1.38M).
Speaking of that IndyCar race, the audience of 1.38 million ranks as the largest of the season outside of the Indy 500, with the caveat that much of NBC’s window was preempted by the French Open. Race one on Saturday averaged 845,000, bringing the weekend average up to 954,000 — up 3% from the last time the doubleheader was held in 2019 (931K). (SportsMediaWatch)
Univision’s Telecast of CONCACAF Nations League Final Scores Massive Ratings
Univision’s TUDN’s telecast of the CONCACAF Nations League Final featuring bitter rivals US and Mexico drew a huge audience, becoming the most-watched soccer match since the 2019 Gold Cup and the #1 program on all of television for the entire week (among Adults 18-49 and Adults 18-34).
Kicking off at 9 p.m. ET on Univision, the match averaged 4.2 million Total Viewers 2+ and 2.3 million Adults 18-49, and peaked at midnight with 4.9 Million Total Viewers 2+ and 2.8 million Adults 18-49.
The performance follows an impressive semifinal round which saw Univision’s telecasts of Mexico vs. Costa Rica deliver 2.4 million Total Viewers 2+ and 1.3 Adults 18-49, and US vs. Honduras average 1.3 million Total Viewers 2+ and 559,000 Adults 18-49. (Univision)