Ratings Roundup: ESPN Sees 22% Increases on WNBA Coverage; Aaron Judge’s Hunt for 61 Home Runs Fuels Viewership on YES Network

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, Disney Networks score a season of viewership wins with expanded WNBA coverage, YES Network sees viewership spike amid Aaron Judge’s chase for 61 home runs, and more.

Disney Networks Score a Season of Viewership Ws with Expanded WNBA Coverage in 2022

Disney Networks expanded coverage of the WNBA in 2022 to televise more games than ever before, leading to viewership growth throughout both the regular season and playoffs. Together, ESPN and ABC televised 49 games from Tip-Off week through the conclusion of the WNBA Finals on Sunday as ESPN continued its 26-year relationship with the WNBA, dating back to the inaugural season in 1997.

As the exclusive home of the WNBA postseason, Disney Networks televised 49 games as part of the league’s new expanded playoff format with the Las Vegas Aces securing the franchise’s first championship, defeating the Connecticut Sun in the best-of-five series. After 23 games, the 2022 postseason averaged 456,000 viewers – up 22% over 2021’s postseason – making it the most-viewed WNBA postseason since 2007.

WNBA on ESPN Viewership Milestones in 2022:

  • Full 2022 Season (Regular + Post): most viewed since 2006, averaging 412,000 viewers (49 games), up 22% form 2021.
  • Semifinals: Most-viewed semifinal round since 2014, averaging 488,000 viewers (nine games), up 45% from 2021.
  • First Round: Most-viewed opening round since 2007, up 50% from the first and second rounds last year, averaging 392,000 over 10 games.
  • Regular Season: Most-viewed regular season since 2008. The WNBA on ESPN Presented by Google season (25 games across Disney Networks) averaged 372,000 viewers, a 20% spike versus 2021. The Aces-Storm regular season finale on ABC averaged 835,000 – the most-viewed WNBA game across all networks since May 17, 2008.
  • All-Star Game: Most-viewed All-Star Game since 2015. The 2022 AT&T WNBA All-Star Game on ABC averaged 734,000 viewers, up 53% from 2021’s All-Star Game.
  • WNBA Draft: Most-viewed WNBA Draft since 2004. The 2022 WNBA Draft Presented by State Farm averaged 403,000 viewers, up 20% from 2021.

ESPN Social doubled the number of WNBA-focused social posts across the company’s various accounts in 2022. Those efforts resulted in 1.1 billion impressions, a 20% increase over 2021, and more than 193 million total video views, a staggering 90% jump from the prior year.

This Week’s Yankees Ratings on YES Network

New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge and his chase for 61 regular season home runs is capturing the attention of the entire baseball world, but the outfielder’s attraction can be seen during a pair of games vs. the Pittsburgh Pirates this week.

Wednesday night’s telecast averaged 600,000 Total Viewers in the New York DMA, peaking at 756,000 Total Viewers during the 9:30-9:45 pm quarter-hour.

The 600,000 Average Total Viewers marks the YES Network’s best non-Subway Series game telecast in four years, since Red Sox-Yankees on May 8, 2018, which averaged 603,000 Total Viewers.

The game was also the 28th game out of YES’ last 36 Primetime Yankees games that have been No. 1 in the New York DMA in Total Viewers.

In addition, the game was also the most-streamed game ever on the YES App, eclipsing 105,000 unique viewers.

Tuesday night’s telecast averaged 539,000 Total Viewers in the New York DMA, peaking at 676,000 Total Viewers during the 9:45-10:00 pm quarter-hour.

The 539,000 Average Total Viewers marks YES’ best Primetime non-Subway Series telecast in four years (557,000 Average Total Viewers for YES’ July 2, 2018 Braves-Yankees).

On pace to have its best Yankees season in 11 years (since 2011), the YES Network is averaging 354,000 Total Viewers for its Yankees telecasts this season, a 24% year-over-year increase from last year. Last night marked the 37th YES game this season to average 400,000 Total Viewers or more. By comparison, YES only had nine such games during the 2021 season.

Disney Networks Averaged Nearly 21 Million Viewers During Monday Night Football’s Two Hours of Overlapping Action

During Monday Night Football’s Week 2, Disney Networks averaged 20.6 million viewers (ESPN, ABC, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+) when Tennessee-Buffalo and Minnesota-Philadelphia were shown simultaneously, a two hour period (8:30 – 10:30 p.m. ET). The 20.6 million viewers bested the record-setting Monday Night Football Week 1 audience across the same five networks (19.85 million viewers from 8:14 – 11:18 p.m. on Sept.19) and peaked at 22.2 million viewers from 9:15 – 9:30 pm. The impressive combined viewership mounted despite the Buffalo Bills scoring 31 unanswered points on their way to a lopsided 41-7 victory, and the Eagles jumping out a 24-7 lead during the overlapping period.

Examining closer, fans watched nearly four billion minutes of Monday Night Football in Week 2 across the same Disney Networks, which is up from the 3.7 billion minutes watched for ESPN’s most recent Monday Night Football doubleheader in 2020 (Week 1 with kickoffs at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m.). Additionally, the 3.9 billion minutes watched is up 56% from a standard, standalone Monday Night Football game (approximately 2.6 billion minutes on a weekly basis since 2006).

Individually, ABC and ESPN were the most-viewed networks of the night across all of television, and both games were the most-watched telecasts of the night. Minnesota-Philadelphia averaged 12.9 million viewers (ABC/ESPN+) and Tennessee-Buffalo averaged 7.9 million viewers (ESPN/ESPN2/ESPN Deportes).

Additional data will be available in the coming days, providing further insight to how viewers navigated the two games. This was the first time ESPN/Disney, in conjunction with the NFL, presented Monday Night Football with scheduled overlapping action.

ESPN’s Monday Night Football features its first of four consecutive divisional showdowns when the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants match up in Week 3 (Sept. 26, 8 p.m.). Joe Buck, Troy Aikman and Lisa Salters will call the game on ESPN, ABC and ESPN+. Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli returns on ESPN2.

Viewership reported by Nielsen includes streaming audience across ESPN/Disney and NFL digital properties.

NFL on CBS Continues Impressive Start to Season Across All Platforms with Massive Week 2 Viewership

After a record-setting Week 1, the NFL on CBS continued its strong start to the season with massive viewership across all CBS Sports platforms.

Sunday’s national game window, led by the Cowboys’ last-second win over the Bengals and the Cardinals’ thrilling overtime victory against the Raiders, averaged 27.389 million viewers, the most-watched NFL on CBS national game window in three years (28.249 million, Dec. 8, 2019 with Kansas City-New England as the high-coverage game). It is CBS Sports’ most-watched game window in September since 1998 when the NFL returned to CBS.

The NFL on CBS is averaging 18.920 million viewers this season, the best start for the Network in 12 years.

Paramount+, featuring live NFL on CBS local market games, scored its most-streamed NFL regular-season game ever across viewing households, streaming minutes and average minute audience (AMA) with Dallas-Cincinnati.

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