Ratings Roundup: NFL Sees Highest Viewership Ever Through Week 4

NFL telecasts through the first four weeks of the season are drawing viewers at a record pace. According to Nielsen, more than 150 million viewers have tuned in for at least part of a game this season, up from 146 million viewers last year. The average NFL game hauls in 18.9 million viewers, more than twice the average viewership during the first two weeks of the prime-time television season (9.2 million).

NBC’s Sunday Night Football is averaging 22.9 million viewers, up 10% over last season’s 20.8 million. CBS is averaging 18.9 million viewers on its Sunday telecasts, up 21% over last year’s 15.5 million and the highest for an AFC TV package 1987. ESPN’s Monday Night Football is averaging 14.7 million viewers, the best start ever for an ESPN primetime NFL package. In addition, half of the NFL’s 32 teams have posted at least a 10% increase in local ratings….

…Roy Halladay’s thrilling no-hitter in Game 1 of the NLDS logged just a 2.7 rating and 4.209 million viewers on TBS Wednesday, according to Nielsen fast nationals. That is down 37% in ratings and 36% in viewership from last year’s Twins-Yankees Game 1 (4.3, 6.607 million), which aired in a later timeslot. As Halladay approached greatness in the late innings, wiewership for the game increased by 41% from 7 p.m. ET to 8 p.m…

…Game 1 of the Yankees-Twins series earned TBS the best ratings of the three games on Wednesday, posting a 4.3 rating and 6.914 million viewers. This is up 30% in ratings and 39% in viewership from last year’s comparable game (Cardinals-Dodgers Game 1, 3.3, 4.974 million), which aired in a later timeslot…

…The Rangers-Rays opener was not as successful: the earliest MLB postseason game in four years drew a 1.6 U.S. rating and 2.244 million viewers on TBS. The game began at 1:30 p.m. ET, the earliest start for any weekday MLB playoff game since ’06. The game was down 20% in ratings and 19% in viewership from both last year (Rockies-Phillies Game 1, 2.0, 2.758 million). It was the second-lowest rated, second-least viewed MLB postseason game ever on TBS (Phillies-Brewers Game 4 in 2008, 1.5, 2.220 million)…

…IndyCar Series viewership on Versus is up 16% from 2009. In its second season on Versus the IndyCar has averaged 366,000 viewers for 12 telecasts, an increase of 16.2% from 315,000 viewers last year, but still a long way from the 778,000 viewers that ESPN/ESPN2.