Ratings Roundup: Masters Delivers for ESPN, Bombs for CBS; Bruins Light the Lamp for NESN

Despite a dramatic two-hole sudden-death playoff on Easter Sunday, the final round of the Masters failed to deliver for CBS, notching the lowest final-round overnight rating since 2004 (the last time the tournament was played on Easter). CBS’s 8.1 overnight was also down 22% from last year’s coverage, which included Tiger Woods being in contention. CBS’ coverage Saturday drew a 5.1 overnight, which is off 25% from last year and the lowest third-round coverage since 2006…

…While CBS suffered from lower overall TV vieweing due to Easter Sunday and good weather around the country, ESPN flourished with its Thursday/Friday Masters coverage. ESPN’s Friday Masters coverage drew 4.1 million viewers (up from 3.5 million last year), making it the most-viewed Friday coverage ever for the event and the third-largest audience ever to watch golf on cable. According to fast nationals, ESPN’s telecast earned a 3.3 household coverage rating, matching the 2010 record for ESPN’s highest-rated Friday coverage of the Masters and up 14% from last year.

The viewership for the 2012 Friday telecast ranks third all-time for golf audiences on cable, exceeded only by ESPN’s coverage of Thursday play in the 2010 Masters (4.9 million) and ESPN’s telecast of the 2008 U.S. Open playoff (4.8 million). ESPN’s two-day average rating for the Masters was a 2.8, an increase of 12 percent from last year’s 2.5, while the average viewership for the two days was up from 3 million in 2011 to 3.4 million in 2012…

…ABC overcame the Easter/good weather handicap for its Bulls/Knicks NBA telecast on Sunday, posting a 2.9 overnight rating, up 21% from Bulls/Magic last year (2.4). After three of the first four NBA games on ABC this season suffered declines in overnight ratings, six of the past eight have had double-digit increases. Despite the increase, Sunday’s game drew the second-lowest overnight of the season for an NBA game on ABC, ahead of only Bulls/Thunder in the same timeslot a week earlier (2.9). The three lowest overnight ratings of the season on ABC have been for games involving the Bulls…

…NESN set a new Bruins regular season ratings record during the 2011/12 campaign by garnering a 4.7 average household rating in the Boston DMA. The 4.7 season rating is a 52% increase over the 2010/11 season, when NESN set the network’s previous season record with a 3.1 HH rating. NESN’s Bruins ratings have increased an astounding 115% over the last two seasons. Overall, 23 of the network’s 25 top-rated Bruins regular season games of all-time were played during the 2011/12 season, including the six highest rated hockey games in NESN history. Only six of NESN’s 71 Bruins games failed to garner at least a 3.1 household rating (last season’s record-setting average rating)…

…NBA TV netted record ratings for its popular Fan Night franchise (where fans vote for the game they want to see on NBA.com) during the 2011-12 regular season, averaging 455,000 viewers ( up 13%) and 362,000 household impressions (up 18%) for its 22-game schedule to become the most-watched Fan Night season ever. This season’s Fan Night also saw increases in all key demographics over last season’s games. The Miami Heat attracted the top four highest rated Fan Night games this year with games against San Antonio (675K viewers on Jan. 17), Orlando (643K on March 13), Phoenix (580K on March 20), and Cleveland (547K on Jan. 24)…

…Despite a tumultuous offseason, the Mets drew big numbers for their home opener against the Braves on April 5 on SNY, garnering a 3.95 household rating (292,000 TV households) and averaging 321, 000 Total Viewers. The 3.95 household rating represents the highest-rated – most-watched – weekday (daytime) home opener ever for the New York Mets on any RSN. This eclipses the previous ratings record for a daytime home opener, which took place on April 1, 2002 when the Mets-Pirates game recorded a 3.9 household rating (284,000 TV households). In addition, the household rating is 21% higher than the 2011 Mets-Marlins season opener on April 1, 2011 at 7:00pm (3.95 household rating vs. 3.27 household rating).