Ratings Roundup: MLB at Field of Dreams Hits New 16-Year Benchmark With 5.903 Million Viewers

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, MLB at Field of Dreams delivered best baseball viewership since 2005, NASCAR at the Brickyard hits a new low, and more.

MLB at Field of Dreams Delivers Best Viewership Since 2005

5,903,000 viewers watched the inaugural MLB at Field of Dreams broadcast, featuring the New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox, on Fox and Fox Deportes.

The game peaked with 6,094,000 viewers from 8:45 to 9 p.m. ET on Fox and ranks as the most-watched regular season baseball game on any network since 2005 (5,090,000).

The contest was the most-streamed regular season baseball game in Fox Sports history. The top five markets were:

  • Chicago (11.2/25)
  • New York (6.6/14)
  • St. Louis (6.0/13)
  • Hartford (5.6/12)
  • Kansas City (5.6/12) (Twitter)

NASCAR Brickyard Ratings Hit New Low

Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race from the Brickyard road course averaged a 1.8 rating and 2.83 million viewers on NBC, marking the lowest rated and least-watched Cup Series race from the Brickyard on record (excludes rainouts).

A.J. Allmendinger’s win, which peaked with 3.5 million viewers, declined a third in ratings and 35% in viewership from last year, when the race was run over July 4 weekend and one of the first marquee sporting events in months (2.7, 4.34M). The share (the percentage of television homes viewing the race out of the number of homes with television in use) was down just 4%. HUT (households using televisions) levels on Sunday were down a whopping 30% from last year’s race date.

Ratings and viewership also dropped 5% from 2019, when the race took place in September and aired opposite NFL games (1.9, 2.97M).

The green flag dropped at 1:27 PM ET, marking the earliest start for any non-rain delayed race since 2017. Due to various delays, the race was punted off of the NBC broadcast network before its conclusion. An hour of bonus coverage on NBCSN — which overlapped some with the NBC broadcast — averaged 693,000, with a half-hour of post-race coverage considerably higher at 1.38 million.

Notably, the Brickyard ranks as the least-watched Cup Series race on broadcast television this season (12 total). It averaged fewer viewers than this year’s July 4 weekend race at Road America (3.08M). (SportsMediaWatch)

NFL Network’s preseason opener tops all of its 2019 games

Last Thursday’s Washington-Patriots NFL preseason game averaged a 1.0 rating and 1.75 million viewers on NFL Network, marking the outlet’s largest preseason audience since 2018 (keep in mind there were no preseason games last year). The game, which faced tough competition from the competing MLB “Field of Dreams” game on FOX, increased a tick in ratings and 17% in viewership from the comparable window in 2019 (Jets-Giants: 0.9, 1.50M).

The following night’s Bills-Lions game drew a 0.8 (+4%) and 1.30 million (+6%), with the Cowboys-Cardinals nightcap at a 0.75 and 1.25 million.

Shifting to the weekend, Browns-Jaguars (Trevor Lawrence’s NFL debut) averaged a 0.9 and 1.67 million Saturday night. Broncos-Vikings drew a 1.0 and 1.63 million and Dolphins-Bears a 1.0 and 1.59 million earlier in the day. The Chargers-Rams nightcap pulled a 0.6 and 1.12 million. NFL Network carried only one game on the comparable day in 2019, a Cowboys-49ers matchup that drew a 1.0 and 1.66 million.

Panthers-Colts pulled a 0.7 and 1.20 million on Sunday. There was no comparable window last preseason. (SportsMediaWatch)

WNBA Hits New Nine-Year High

Sunday’s Storm-Sky WNBA regular season game averaged a 0.47 rating and 755,000 viewers on ABC, marking the league’s largest regular season audience in nine years (Mercury-Lynx: 804K). The previous high was set by ABC’s previous game last month, 643,000 for Aces-Wings.

Seattle’s overtime win comfortably outdrew its lead-in, Barcelona-Real Sociedad in La Liga’s U.S. broadcast network debut (0.25, 465K). The margin was much closer in adults 18-49, where the WNBA topped La Liga by just 5,000 viewers (175K to 170K). (SportsMediaWatch)

Premier League’s Opening Weekend Is Most-Watched in Six Years

The opening weekend of the English Premier League averaged 628,000 viewers across NBC’s various TV and digital platforms, the most-watched opening weekend since 2015 (694K). Liverpool-Norwich led the way with a 0.52 rating and 912,000 viewers on NBC Saturday, followed by a 0.43 and 757,000 for Manchester City-Tottenham on NBCSN Sunday. Including additional streaming data not tracked by Nielsen, the latter match averaged 818,000 viewers — the second-largest opening weekend match ever on cable, behind Manchester United-Chelsea two years ago (1.01M). (SportsMediaWatch)

ESPN Digital Records 10th Straight Best Month with 99.4 Million U.S. Users in June

ESPN Digital reached 99.4 million users in the month of June, its best June on record. ESPN was up 24% year-over-year in users and 132% year-over-year in minutes. Most notable traffic drivers included the MLB regular season, NBA playoffs, Cricket, Euro 2020 and the Mayweather v. Paul fight.

ESPN Digital is averaging 98.5 million users per month in 2021, making this the best first half year on record. June marks the 40th straight month that ESPN ranked number one in the U.S. digital sports category for monthly unique visitors.

The ESPN App saw 21 million users in June, more than two-and-a-half times the size of the next closest competitor. This marks the best June on record for the ESPN App. The ESPN App total minutes were also up 261% year-over-year.

ESPN Social ranked number one in social actions across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for the third-straight month. A total of 361 million social actions were generated across ESPN social accounts in June (source: Shareablee). This is the third-consecutive month ESPN led the social sports publisher ranking.

Across ESPN’s digital shows, Hoop Streams averaged 1.4M views per episode during the NBA Finals (8.4M viewers total), up 10% from last year’s Finals, while watch time more than doubled. Hoop Streams averaged 1.1M views per episode over the Western Conference Finals (+25% vs the 2020 ECF). (ESPN)

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