Ratings Roundup: First Four Nearly Even With 2010; MSG Rides Rangers, Knicks to Big Numbers

Wednesday’s Cal/USF NCAA Tournament ‘First Four’ game drew a 0.8 overnight rating on TruTV, down a tick from VCU/USC last year (0.9). Earlier in the night, Vermont/Lamar drew a 0.6 overnight, even compared to last year’s UTSA/Alabama State game (0.6). Tuesday’s First Four games (Mississippi Valley St./Western Kentucky and BYU/Iona) both drew overnights of 0.9.

With the Rangers enjoying a breakthrough season and the Knicks a national craze (at least for a little while), MSG Network is riding high. Through 33 telecasts, MSG Network has averaged a 3.03 rating for New York Knicks coverage this season, up a whopping 103% from the comparable date last year (1.49). The Knicks earned their two largest regular season audiences ever on MSG earlier this season. Though not as spectacular as the Knicks’ increase, the Rangers have put up solid numbers this season as well. Through 57 games, MSG Network averaged a 0.96 rating for Rangers coverage, up 26% from last year (0.76).

NFL Network’s coverage of the first day of free agency drew a five percent uptick in primetime viewership over first day numbers last year (which took place on July 29 due to the lockout). An average of 337,000 fans tuned in and scored as channel’s highest ever numbers for the first day of free agency. The league’s digital media platforms, which includes NFL.com, NFL Mobile Only From Verizon and other NFL mobile products, posted a 40% increase in page views compared to the first day of free agency last season.

The first episode of The Ultimate Fighter: Live on FX delivered an average audience of 1.3 million viewers, according to Nielsen. The series kicked off its 15th season in high fashion with 16 fights that were all aired live on the channel. Although down from its average on Spike TV, the return of the series handed the network with a Friday night victory among Adults 18-49.