Ratings Roundup: 2024 NHL Stadium Series Marks Highest Regular Season Viewership Since 2021

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, Daytona 500 rainout drives down viewership; NBA viewership over local TV markets up over 100%; and more.

Daytona 500 Rainout Leads to Viewership Drop

The Daytona 500’s Sunday rainout led to a 27% year-over-year audience drop for Fox, according to SBJ. This year’s Monday race delivered just 5.96 million viewers, which is second-lowest Daytona 500 audience on record behind 2021 – a race that suffered from a six-hour rain delay and was impacted by COVID-impacted audience numbers.

2024 NHL Stadium Series Delivered Most-Viewed Regular Season Game Since ESPN Re-Acquired NHL Rights in 2021 – Rangers-Islanders Averaged 1.6 Million Viewers

The 2024 NHL Stadium Series on ABC delivered strong viewership this past weekend, averaging 1.37 million total viewers and 448,000 viewers in the 18-49 demographic – both up 21% from last year’s Stadium Series game.

Sunday night’s game between the New York Rangers and New York Islanders averaged 1.57 million total viewers and 487,000 viewers in the 18-49 demographic – peaking at 2.38 million viewers – an increase of 38% and 31% versus last year’s Stadium Series game. The matchup ranks as the most-viewed Stadium Series since 2019 and is now the most-viewed regular season game since the start of ESPN’s new rights deal began in 2021. The New York market drew 559,000 total viewers, making it the most-viewed regular season game in that market since 2014. ESPN+/Hulu viewership was up 9% versus last year’s Stadium Series.

Saturday night’s Stadium Series presentation between the Philadelphia Flyers and New Jersey Devils averaged 1.13 million total viewers and 401,000 viewers in the 18-49 demographic, which was flat and up 8% versus last year’s Stadium Series. The game’s audience peaked with 1.38 million viewers.

Through 25 games, the NHL on ESPN/ABC is up 41% in total viewers and 29% in the 18-49 demographic year over year.

Hawks Ratings on Bally Sports at All-Star Break are Highest in Seven Years

Heading in the 2024 NBA All-Star break, Bally Sports Southeast has recorded its highest average household rating for Atlanta Hawks telecasts in the Atlanta DMA since 2016-17.

The high ratings have continued throughout the season as the Hawks are 24-31 heading into All-Star weekend. Of the 49 games airing on Bally Sports Southeast, 31 telecasts have ranked No. 1 on cable and 17 telecasts have ranked among the top three networks in Atlanta during the game’s timeslot.

Bally Sports is averaging over 30,000 impressions per telecast for a 1.12 household rating in the Atlanta DMA. The last time the network posted an average higher at the All-Star break was 2016-17 when the Hawks were 32-24 and the network had a 1.17 average HH rating. The ratings this season are up 37 percent year-over-year through 49 games.

Viewership on Bally Sports+ and the Bally Sports app has tallied over 9.5 million minutes streamed during the 2023-24 season with time watched increasing by an average of four minutes per game over last season.

The next Hawks telecast on Bally Sports Southeast is Sunday, February 25, with coverage starting at 6:30 p.m. ET for the Hawks vs. Orlando Magic game.

NBA Viewership in Local TV Markets Grows

NBA viewership in local television markets had climbed above last season’s numbers as of the All-Star Break. According to the Nielsen Station Index — which measures the audience for 27 NBA teams across 25 local U.S. markets — 18 franchises had increased their linear TV viewership year-to-year through the same amount of games (through Feb. 6). The NBA champion Nuggets, whose local Altitude RSN had a low viewing base last season due to a dispute with Comcast, had gained the largest percentage of local viewers this season with a rise of 139%. They are followed in the top 5 by the Timberwolves (a 107% rise on Bally Sports North), the Suns (94% on free over-the-air Arizona’s Family), the Magic (76% on Bally Sports Florida) and the Spurs (54% on Bally Sports Southwest).

2024 NBA All-Star Game Viewership Across TNT Sports Networks Up 20% vs. Last Year

11.6 million unique viewers watched the 2024 NBA All-Star Game on Sunday across TNT, TBS, truTV and B/R Sports on Max, up 20% vs. last year.  The game averaged 5.5 million viewers, up 14% vs. last year.

ESPN’s Postseason NFL Countdown, NFL Live and NFL Primetime Each Achieve Multi-Year Viewership Highs During 2024 NFL Playoffs Run

ESPN’s NFL studio shows each delivered multi-year viewership highs during the NFL postseason. Beginning with the Super Wild Card and running through Conference Championship Sunday, Postseason NFL Countdown (four episodes) and NFL Live (14 episodes) had their most-watched playoffs in seven and nine seasons, respectively.

Adding to the success, NFL Primetime earned its best Super Bowl Sunday audience since 2018, as the show brought viewers inside the stadium, highlighted the overtime thriller between the 49ers and Chiefs and had a set decorated with Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid and many more of the back-to-back champions.

Postseason NFL Countdown’s Super Bowl Sunday Show Caps Season of Success
On the journey to its’ most-watched playoff run since the 2017 playoffs (seven seasons), Postseason NFL Countdown averaged 1.5 million viewers (two Super Wild Card episodes, plus Divisional and Conference Championship editions). On Super Bowl Sunday (10 a.m. – 2 p.m. ET), originating from inside Allegiant Stadium, the long-standing pregame show averaged 1.3 million viewers, the show’s best Super Bowl show since the last 49ers-Chiefs matchup in 2020 (four seasons).

Each Episode of Postseason NFL Countdown was Up Year-Over-Year
In addition to the collective success, each of the five individual shows were up year-over-year compared to the same show/time slot in the 2023 NFL Playoff run. The postseason run was an extension of the show’s regular season success, as Sunday NFL Countdown (10 a.m. – 1 p.m.) earned its most-watched regular season since 2019.  

Chris Berman, Booger McFarland and NFL Primetime Scores Most-Watched Super Bowl Sunday Since 2018
NFL Primetime delivered 1.9 million viewers on Super Bowl Sunday, the show’s most-watched episode following America’s biggest game since 2018. The final show of the season built upon NFL Primetime’s Conference Championship episode (January 28) which drew 1.1 million viewers, up 20% year over year.  Both shows aired on ESPN.

During the regular season, NFL Primetime (Sundays, 7:30 p.m. and on-demand) continues to be the most-watched original studio program on ESPN+ during the season.

NFL Live with Most-Watched Playoff Run in Nine Seasons
During the week, fans drove NFL Live (4-5 p.m.) to its most watched playoffs since 2015, with the studio show averaging 486,000 viewers a show (14 shows – January 9 to 26). NFL Live then concluded their season with onsite episodes in Las Vegas and Orlando around Super Bowl LVIII and the Pro Bowl Games. The success continued a years-long viewership success trend for the Emmy-nominated show.

Monday Night Countdown Commentators Draw Nearly Five Million Viewers Ahead of Divisional Game
ESPN’s Monday Night Countdown team – Michelle Beisner-Buck, Ryan Clark, Robert Griffin III, Marcus Spears, Scott Van Pelt – led into both of ESPN’s postseason telecasts, with their Divisional round edition of Postseason NFL Countdown averaging 4.7 million viewers (combined on ABC and ESPN) leading into Texans-Ravens (January 20), ESPN’s first ever Divisional Playoff game. Please note: This audience is excluded from the multi-year high Postseason NFL Countdown viewership average above.

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