Ratings Roundup: Peyton, Eli Manning on Monday Night Football Doubles Audience; More NFL, College Football Number
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, Week 2 of Peyton and Eli Manning on Monday Night Football gains traction, Chiefs-Ravens on Sunday Night Football sees its best game in three years, Alabama-Florida becomes most-watched SEC on CBS season opener in nine years, and more.
Monday Night Football Delivers 13.8 Million Viewers, Peyton and Eli Grab 1.9 Million Viewers
ESPN’s Monday Night Football presentation featuring the Detroit Lions at the Green Bay Packers (September 20, 8 p.m. ET) delivered a total audience of 13,808,000 viewers across ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPN Deportes, the second-most-watched Week 2 MNF game since 2014.
The audience for the Packers’ 35-17 victory was up 13% from Week 2 in 2019 (Cleveland at NY Jets) and up 16% from 2018 (Seattle at Chicago), the most recent Week 2 MNF games only on ESPN’s cable networks. Last season, ABC propelled MNF’s Week 2 telecast (New Orleans at Las Vegas) to become the most-watched MNF telecast of the season.
Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli’s audience increased by 138% in week 2, as 1.9 million viewers watched their alternate telecast of Lions-Packers, up from 800,000 viewers in Week 1. The viewership is a new high for an ESPN alternate telecast since the concept was largely adopted in 2014 (more than 30 offerings). For Peyton and Eli’s viewers, more than half (931,000 viewers) were in the adults 18-49 demo.
Viewership reported by Nielsen for ESPN and ESPN2 includes streaming audience across ESPN, NFL, and Yahoo Sports properties.
MNF Up Double Digits Season to Date From Both 2020 and 2019
Through two weeks, ESPN’s Monday Night Football is averaging 14.6 million viewers (two games), up 19% from 2019 (three games) and 23% from 2020 (three games).
Additional Monday Night Football Highlights:
- Monday Night Football was the most-watched telecast of the night among households, viewers, and all keys demo: Men 18-34, 18-49, 25-54, and 55+ as well as persons 18-34, 18-49, 25-54 and P5+ on ESPN.
- Monday Night Football also helped ESPN become the most-watched network (broadcast and cable) in prime time among households, viewers and the same key male and people demos. (ESPN)
Chiefs-Ravens Thriller Is Most-Watched Week 2 NBC Sunday Night Football Game Since 2018 With Total Audience Delivery of Nearly 21 Million Viewers
The Baltimore Ravens’ thrilling 36-35 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs last night on NBC and Peacock is the most-watched Week 2 NBC Sunday Night Football game since 2018, based on preliminary data.
Chiefs-Ravens registered a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) average of approximately 20.8 million viewers across NBC TV, Peacock, NBC Sports Digital, and NFL Digital platforms – marking the largest Week 2 NBC SNF audience since Giants-Cowboys in 2018 (21.0 million TAD viewers) and up 13% from last year’s Week 2 SNF game (18.4 million TAD for Patriots-Seahawks, 9/20/20).
NBC’s TV coverage averaged approximately 20.2 million viewers, with a peak of approximately 22.2 million viewers between 9:15-9:30 p.m. ET.
The Average Minute Audience (AMA) for last night’s live stream via Peacock, NBC Sports Digital platforms, NFL Digital platforms, Chiefs and Ravens mobile properties, and Yahoo Sports mobile properties was approximately 630,000 viewers.
Viewership figures are based upon preliminary data from Nielsen and Adobe Analytics. Official national data for NBC will be available on Tuesday.
Last night’s game (8:23 p.m.-11:22 p.m. ET) registered a national TV household rating of 10.8/26 – up 8% from last year (10.0/22).
The top 10 markets included Kansas City (48.9/75), Baltimore (30.4/54), Las Vegas (17.1/35), Milwaukee (17.0/32), Denver (16.6/35), Cleveland (16.3/33), Austin (16.2/32), Washington, D.C. (15.6/31), Dallas (15.4/31), and Sacramento (15.4/32). (NBC Sports)
NFL on CBS Continues Strong Start to Season With Impressive Week 2 Viewership
The NFL on CBS continues its strong start to the season with its Week 2 viewership on Sunday, Sept. 19 averaging 24.291 million viewers in the national 4:25 PM, ET window, up +28% from Week 2 last season.
Highlighted by Dallas’ last-second win over the L.A. Chargers and Tennessee’s overtime win over Seattle, the 4:25 PM, ET game window is CBS’s most-watched national game window in September since 2014 (Seattle-Denver, 27.296 million; 9/21/14).
And, it is the week’s most-watched program on television.
- Viewership for the regional 1:00 PM, ET game window delivered an average of 14.179 million viewers, up +44% from Week 2 last season. The early window was highlighted by Las Vegas-Pittsburgh as the high coverage game.
- The NFL on CBS’s doubleheader averaged 19.290 million viewers, up +33% from last season’s Week 2 and is CBS’ best doubleheader average in September since 2014 (21.458 million on 9/21/14).
- After two weeks of the NFL season, CBS’ average viewership is 17.927 million viewers, making it the highest viewer average on CBS for the first two weeks of the regular-season since 2015 (18.176 million in 2015).
- Paramount+, featuring live NFL on CBS local market games, scored an NFL regular-season viewership record for game minutes consumed for the second consecutive week while registering double-digit year-over-year growth in unique devices and streams from Week 2, 2020. Additionally, Sunday’s Dallas Cowboys vs. L.A. Chargers game saw the most streamed minutes for an NFL regular-season contest ever on the service. (CBS Sports)
FOX NFL Matchups Fuel 7% Viewership Growth in Week 2
Fox’s Week 2 lineup drew 18,473,000 viewers, up +7% over last season’s comparable window (17,211,000).
This was the network’s most-watched NFL single header since Week 13 in 2019. On the digital side, this was the most-streamed Week 2 ever with an AMA of 565,200 across FOX, NFL, and Yahoo! Sports properties. (Twitter)
Giants-Washington Is Most-Watched NFL Network Exclusive Thursday Night Football Game Since 2018
Total viewership for Thursday Night Football featuring the Washington Football Team’s 30-29 win over the New York Giants was 7.9 million viewers (TV + Digital) – making it NFL Network’s most-watched exclusive Thursday Night Football game since 2018 (New York Jets vs. Cleveland Browns, 2018 Week 3).
The 7.9 million viewers for Giants-Washington on TV and Digital is up +25% vs. the 2020 NFL Network exclusive Thursday Night Football three-game average (6.3 million P2+) and up +9% versus last year’s Week 2 Thursday Night Football matchup between the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns (7.2 million). Giants-Washington was television’s most-watched telecast of the day.
Digital streaming across NFL digital platforms, Giants and Washington mobile properties, and Yahoo Sports mobile properties delivered an average minute audience of 532K – the highest digital average minute audience ever for an NFL Network exclusive Thursday Night Football game. (NFL)
Total NFL Viewership Through Week 2
Season-to-date NFL viewership is 17.7 million viewers across TV and digital platforms, +14% YoY and the highest average through Week 2 since 2016. Week 2 averaged 16.5 million viewers, +12% YoY on TV + Digital and the highest Week 2 viewership since 2016
Overall, the landscape was less crowded in Week 2 this year with cable news down and less major sports competition; only significant competition this year was the Emmys on Sunday night. Cable news was down -33% in Week 2 NFL windows (3.3 million vs. 4.9 million)
In 2020, NBA and NHL postseason games aired in several Week 2 NFL prime windows: two NBA playoff games averaged 3.4 million viewers & two NHL games averaged 1.2 million viewers. In addition, the 2020 U.S, Open aired on Sunday from 12-6 p.m. and averaged 3.2 million viewers. SNF faced the Emmys both years; up +23% this year on CBS vs. last year on ABC (7.8 million vs. 6.4 million)
CBS Sports’ Presentation of Alabama-Florida Delivers Massive Viewership
CBS Sports’ college football Saturday showcase at 3:30 PM, ET between No. 1 Alabama and No. 11 Florida on Sept. 18 delivered the most-watched SEC ON CBS season opener since 2013 (13.586 million, Alabama-Texas A&M, 9/14/13).
CBS Sports’ coverage of Alabama’s 31-29 victory averaged 7.863 million viewers, up +76% vs. last year’s comparable game (4.464 million, Mississippi State-LSU, 9/26/20) and scored as the most-watched television program of the day on any network.
The game peaked with 11.587 million viewers from 6:45 to 7:00 PM, ET.
Paramount+ scored triple-digit year-over-year growth in minutes streamed while registering double-digit growth in unique devices and streams from last year. (CBS Sports)
Auburn-Penn State Registers 7.6 Million Viewers for ABC’s Saturday Night Football, ABC/ESPN Win the Night in Week 3
ABC and ESPN continued to see multi-year viewership highs in Week 3 of the season, highlighted by Saturday night’s primetime matchup between then-No. 22 Auburn and then-No. 10 Penn State.
ABC’s Saturday Night Football averaged 7,606,000 viewers, the second-most-watched Week 3 game across all networks and fifth-best game of the year. ABC has aired three of the top five most-watched games of the year, and only once in the past decade (2016) have five games surpassed the 7.5 million viewers mark in the first three weeks of the season. The 7.6 million viewers is one of the five best September game audiences on ABC since the start of the 2018 season.
The matchup between the Tigers and the Nittany Lions peaked from 10:45 – 11 p.m. ET with 8.9 million viewers in the closing minutes of the game. This was the most-viewed Week 3 game on ABC since 2011 and the audience was up more than 100% from Saturday Night Football in 2020’s Week 3 (Miami/Louisville) and Week 3 in 2019 (Clemson/Syracuse). Driven by this game, ABC for the day was up +43 percent from 2019’s Week 3.
ESPN networks once again owned primetime as the top two networks among all key male and adult demos from 8 – 11 p.m. During that window, ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU had a combined average minute audience of 10.7 million viewers.
Across the entire sport, 9.4 billion minutes were watched across all networks, up +12% from Week 2 and the most-viewed Week 3 since 2016.
ESPN notched the top two games on cable for Week 3, including South Carolina/Georgia (2,548,000 viewers) in primetime on Saturday, and Friday night’s UCF/Louisville matchup (1,881,000), which was up +8 percent from the 2019 Friday doubleheader (North Carolina/Wake Forest and Washington State/Houston).
ESPN’s College GameDay Built by The Home Depot (9 a.m. – noon) had a high-powered weekend in Happy Valley, with the three-hour show averaging 1,910,000 viewers, which ranks as the most-viewed College GameDay since Rivalry Week in 2019. The audience was up +84 percent from Week 3 in 2020 (Louisville) and +7 percent from Week 3 in 2019 (Ames).
Saturday’s show ranks as the best Week 3 airing of the show since 2016 and the final hour (11 a.m. – noon) averaged 2,425,500 viewers, the best final hour since the 2019 season. (ESPN)
CFB on Fox Is Off to Best Start Ever, Up +41% Over 2019
Through Week 3, CFB on Fox is averaging 4,174,000 viewers, up +41% over 2019’s average (2,968,000; Week 3), Fox’s best start to a college football regular season ever.
Nebraska-Oklahoma on Fox averaged 4,210,000 viewers, up +37% over 2019’s comparable Week 3 game (3,064,000 – Ohio State vs. Indiana). This ranked as the most-watched game in the noon window.
Starting at 11 a.m. ET, Big Noon Kickoff posted 1,187,000 viewers, up +29% over 2019’s Week 3 performance (918,000).
For Ohio State vs. Tulsa, 1,831,000 viewers tuned into the game, up +246% over 2019’s Big Ten Saturday average on FS1 (529,000). (Twitter)
NASCAR Race at Bristol
The NASCAR Cup Series race at Bristol earned a 1.20 rating and 2.20 million viewers. It was NBCSN’s No. 1 sports telecast of the week. Viewership was up +3% (2.13 million), while the rating was down -3% vs. 2020 Bristol II on NBCSN (1.24)
Bristol II was the fifth consecutive NCS race with YOY gains in viewership (Michigan – Bristol II) This is the longest stretch of NCS races showing YOY viewership gains since 2013 At peak, 2.4 million viewers were tuned in.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s Debut Sets USA Record
Newcastle United vs. Manchester United on Sept. 11, which marked Ronaldo’s return to his former club, averaged a 0.30 rating and 537,000 viewers on USA — marking the largest audience ever for a Premier League match on the network. Including Spanish-language coverage on Universo and additional streaming data not tracked by Nielsen, the match averaged 705,000.
United’s win was not the most-watched match of the weekend, trailing Aston Villa-Chelsea later that day on the NBC broadcast network (0.46, 802K). (SportsMediaWatch)
Viewers Turn Out for Yankees-Mets 9/11 Tribute Game
The penultimate game between the New York Yankees and New York Mets on the 20th anniversary of Sept. 11 averaged a 1.35 rating and 2.40 million viewers on FOX, up 50% in ratings and 46% in viewership from comparable regional action last year (0.9, 1.64M). The Yankees’ comeback win delivered the sixth-largest audience of the season.
The same matchup averaged a 0.8 and 1.33 million on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball the following day, up 61% and 48% respectively from Astros-Dodgers last year (0.49, 896K). (SportsMediaWatch)