Ratings Roundup: NBC Receives Least Watched Olympics in Primetime; NFL Hall of Fame Game Becomes Most-Watched Preseason Bout in Four Years

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 2020 Tokyo Olympics were the least-watched for any Summer or Winter Games, Steelers-Cowboys on Fox was the most-watched preseason game since 2017, the Music City Grand Prix in Nashville delivered the most-watched cable race in NBC Sports history, and more.

2020 Tokyo Olympics Becomes Least-Watched in Primetime for Any Summer or Winter Games

The Tokyo Summer Olympics averaged 15.6 million viewers per night across NBC’s various television and digital platforms, marking the least-watched primetime Olympics on record, Summer or Winter. The previous low was set by the previous Olympics — 19.8 million for the PyeongChang Winter Games in 2018.

Tokyo is the first Summer Olympics to average fewer viewers than the preceding Winter Games since Athens in 2004, which followed a U.S. based Winter Olympics two years prior.

The primetime average from Tokyo marks a 42% decline from the previous Summer Games in Rio five years ago (27.0M) and a 50% drop from the London Olympics on NBC alone in 2012 (31.1M). Viewership fell 27% from the previous Summer Games low of 21.5 million for Sydney in 2000, the last Summer Olympics to take place in the fall.

Sunday’s Closing Ceremony averaged just 9.0 million viewers (8.81M on NBC alone), marking the smallest primetime Olympics audience on record. Viewership declined 47% from the Rio Closing Ceremony (17.0M).

On Saturday, the final night of competition averaged 10.5 million (8.45M on NBC alone) — down 36% from 2016 (16.3M) and the second-smallest primetime Olympics audience on record. Coverage on Friday night averaged 12.6 million (9.85M on NBC alone), down 40% from Rio (21.1M). (SportsMediaWatch)

More Olympics Ratings

Telemundo Deportes, the Spanish-language home of the Olympic Games, wrapped up its extensive coverage of the Tokyo Olympics, reaching 10.6 million viewers on Telemundo and Universo. In addition, the Olympics generated 16.5 million minutes streamed across Telemundo Deportes’ digital platforms, up 22% from Rio 2016.

Telemundo Deportes’ exclusive Spanish-language coverage of the Tokyo Olympics was the most extensive Olympic coverage ever in U.S. Spanish-language. Approximately 250 Telemundo personnel, including a team of more than 25 on-air talent, experts and Olympians, provided viewers with more than 300 hours of the most unique, authentic coverage of the Games, supplemented with 1,000+ pieces of short-form video and editorial content across digital platforms.

Viewership Highlights:

  • Telemundo ranked as the #1 Spanish-language TV network for three consecutive Saturdays, averaging 287,000 total viewers and 111,000 adults 18-49 from 6am-6pm – outperforming its main competitor by 37% and 45%, respectively. Telemundo’s Tokyo Olympics coverage held an even greater lead on Saturday mornings (6am-Noon), more than doubling the competition.
  • Led by Mexico’s National Team, men’s soccer ranked as the most-watched live Olympic events on Telemundo.
  • Matches featuring the men’s Mexican team averaged 358,000 total viewers and 174,000 adults 18-49, including the highly anticipated game featuring Mexico vs Brazil with 499,000 total viewers and 258,000 adults 18-49.
  • The gold medal match featuring Brazil vs. Spain delivered 360,000 total viewers and 144,000 adults 18-49.

Other top-rated events featured female athletes from Mexico:

  • Women’s Synchronized Diving 3M featuring Mexico and the U.S. with 594,000 total viewers and 277,000 adults 18-49.
  • Women’s Softball featuring Mexico vs. Italy with 469,000 total viewers and 203,000 adults 18-49.
  • On social media, the Olympics generated 21.4 million views, 1.1 million actions, and more than 31.7 million minutes consumed across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.
  • Men’s soccer dominated live digital consumption with the top 5 live events generating nearly 2.8M minutes – top matches included the Mexico National Team’s final four matches and the gold medal match featuring Brazil vs. Spain.
  •  Telemundo’s coverage was also the #1 most social televised Spanish-language program across all of the television from July 23-August 8.

North of the border, Canadian audiences engaged on all CBC television, streaming and digital platforms to cheer on Team Canada and athletes from around the world during the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, with CBC marking record high digital audiences and also ranking as the most-watched TV network in Canada throughout the Games.

CBC’s digital and streaming platforms including CBC.ca, the CBC Olympics App and CBC Gem grew historic, record high audiences over the course of the Games, with Canadians streaming more than 37 million video views since the beginning of Tokyo 2020, up 62 percent over PyeongChang 2018, which had a similar time difference of 11 to 16 hours for viewers in time zones across Canada. Additionally, live views made up 61 percent of all video views, highlighting the increasing popularity of live streaming on CBC digital platforms, and Connected TVs accounted for about 68 percent of the total time spent streaming Tokyo 2020 content on CBC Gem. In total, Canadians consumed nearly 17 million hours of digital Olympic content on CBC digital platforms, with time spent reaching the highest one-day total on record for CBC on Friday, August 6, the day of the women’s soccer gold medal game.

On television, 28 million viewers or 3 in 4 Canadians tuned in for Tokyo 2020 coverage on CBC/Radio-Canada. CBC ranked as the most-watched network in Canada for 17 consecutive days among all audiences and delivered an audience share of 21.4 percent in the English TV market, including 33 percent of viewers in the 25-54 demographic, a higher percentage than the overall season average across all English television (28%). Additionally, CBC’s all-day audience during Tokyo 2020 was more than 6 times higher than the 2020/21 regular season audience, with the largest growth attributed to morning and overnight audiences, indicating that Canadians changed their TV viewing habits to watch the Games. (CBC)

Steelers-Cowboys on Fox Becomes Most-Watched Preseason Game Since 2017

7,326,000 viewers watched the Pittsburgh Steelers defeat the Dallas Cowboys in the 2021 Hall of Game Game on Fox and Fox Deportes. The contest was up +37% over the 2019 NFL Hall of Fame Game (5,343,000), ranks as the most-watched NFL preseason game since the 2017 NFL Hall of Fame Game, and ranks as Fox’s best NFL preseason game since 2011 (8,587,000). On Fox alone, the game averaged 7,311,000 viewers. (Twitter)

Music City Grand Prix in Nashville Delivers Most-Watched Cable Race in NBC Sports History

The inaugural Music City Grand Prix, a street course in Nashville averaged a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 1.212 million viewers, making it the most-watched NTT INDYCAR SERIES race on cable in NBC Sports history (since 2009). It’s also believed to be the most-watched INDYCAR cable race in 23 years (2.218 million; ESPN; 1998).

The Music City Grand Prix, which was won by Chip Ganassi Racing’s Marcus Ericsson, surpassed NBC Sports’ previous cable rating record of 934,000 viewers for Mid-Ohio in 2016. NBC Sports has now had two of its four most-watched INDYCAR races on cable during the 2021 season (Road America; June 20; 807,000 viewers).

The 1.212 million viewership figure is up 181% compared to NBCSN’s 2020 INDYCAR race average (432,000 viewers) and up 187% vs. the 2019 cable average (423,000).Streaming across NBC Sports digital platforms delivered an Average Minute Audience of 11,500 viewers, another NBC Sports record for an INDYCAR race, excluding the Indy 500.

Following are the Top 5 markets:

  • Nashville (5.6)
  • Indianapolis (2.6)
  • Knoxville (2.0)
  • Greenville-Spartanburg & Louisville (1.7)

Through its first four races this season, NBCSN is having its best start to an INDYCAR season ever, averaging a TAD of 761,000 viewers, up 110% vs. 2020 (362,000) and up 92% vs. 2019 (397,000). Across both NBC and NBCSN, the 2021 season is averaging a TAD of 1.532 million viewers, up 35% vs. 2020 (1.139 million) and up 7% vs. 2019 (1.430 million).

NBC Sports’ coverage of the 2021 NTT INDYCAR Series continues this weekend with the Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix from Indianapolis on Saturday at 12:30 pm ET on NBCSN, part of the INDYCAR-NASCAR crossover weekend. (NBC Sports)

ABC’s MLB Return Among Top Five Sunday Night Games This Season

ABC averaged 1.63 million viewers for White Sox-Cubs on Sunday Night Baseball last weekend, up 103% from Indians-White Sox on ESPN last year, which was a last-minute replacement for a postponed Cardinals-Cubs game (802K), but down 26% from Red Sox-Yankees in 2019 (2.21M).

The White Sox’ win, which aired opposite the Olympic Closing Ceremony on NBC (8.81M), marked ABC’s first regular season Major League Baseball game since 1995. It ranks fifth among Sunday night games this season.

No other national baseball game last week cracked the 500,000 viewer mark. ESPN drew 475,000 for Phillies-Nationals August 2, up 60% from Mets-Braves on FS1 last year (296K) but down 42% from Braves-Nationals on ESPN in ’19 (819K). Braves-Cardinals drew 428,000 on ESPN Wednesday and 384,000 on Thursday; Mets-Phillies drew 359,000 on ESPN Friday, 368,000 on FS1 Saturday and 257,000 on TBS Sunday; Diamondbacks-Padres drew 230,000 on FS1 Saturday. (SportsMediaWatch)

U.S. vs. Mexico Final Draws Nearly 6 Million Total Viewers 2+ on Sunday Night, Capping Off Huge Concacaf Gold Cup on Univision’s Networks 

TUDN’s coverage of the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup came to a thrilling conclusion Sunday night with its telecast of the finale featuring bitter rivals, US versus Mexico. The match, which ended 1-0 in favor of the Stars and Stripes in extra time, averaged 5.7 million Total Viewers 2+ and 3.03 million Adults 18-49 on Univision and TUDN – becoming Univision’s most-watched soccer telecast since the 2016 Copa America final. The match peaked during the 10:30 p.m. ET quarter hour with 6.21 million Total Viewers 2+ and 3.32 million Adults 18-49.

For the tournament (31 matches), Concacaf Gold Cup on Univision’s networks averaged 1.36 million Total Viewers 2+ and 694,000 Adults 18-49, delivering the summer’s top rated soccer tournament on any network and outperforming FOX’s English-language coverage by triple-digit audience advantages. Additionally, the tournament posted growth among both Total Viewers 2+ (+10%) and Adults 18-49 (+10%) versus the 2019 edition on Univision’s networks. (Univision)

YES Network Ratings Increase 21%

As the New York Yankees continue to pile up wins, so have YES Network’s TV ratings. Thus far in August, the Yanks have averaged 317,000 viewers on the home RSN, which marks a 21% increase compared to the team’s July deliveries (263,000). That YES has been able to grow its audience in the midst of a league-wide decline is no mean feat—through the first four months of the season, baseball’s local numbers were down 12% versus the analogous period in 2019.

During the same period, the YES app has experienced a 37% increase in average unique streams and a 17% lift in the amount of time users spend on in-game viewing. (Sportico)

Formula 1 on ESPN – Hungarian Grand Prix Viewership Notes

The Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix on ESPN attracted an average audience of 964,000 viewers, the largest U.S. average audience on record for a Formula 1 event from Hungary, broadcast or cable.

  • Viewership was the fourth-largest of the season for F1.
  • The race had the seventh-largest audience on record for F1 on cable in the U.S.
  • Audience peaked between 10:45-11 a.m. ET with 1.1 million viewers as Esteban Ocon won his first F1 race.
  • F1 races on ESPN networks are averaging 946K viewers – up 56 percent over the full season of 2020 (608K) and 41 percent over the full season of 2019 (672K).
  • Compared to first 11 races of the season, the 2021 F1 average is up 47 percent over 2020 (645K) and up 39 percent over 2019 (681K)

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