Ratings Roundup: NCAA Tourney Notches Best First Thursday in 23 Years; NBCSN Sees Big Premier League Numbers

CBS Sports and Turner Sports’ delivered the most-vieweed the first Thursday of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament in 23 years. Thursday’s games (across CBS, TNT, TBS, and truTV) averaged 8.6 million total viewers, according to Nielsen Fast Nationals, up 6% compared with 2013 (8.1 million total viewers).  The coverage earned a 5.6/13 U.S. HH rating/share. Overall, through the first three days, the tourney is averaging 8.1 million total viewers, up 9% over last year (7.4 million total viewers), and is the most-viewed start to the tournament since 1991 (when the tournament expanded to four telecast windows for the entire day).  Through three days, the tournament is averaging a 5.3/12 U.S. HH rating/share.

The first daytime telecast window on Thursday averaged 6.3 million total viewers, the highest viewership for the game window in 23 years (since 1991). The telecast window is up 17% compared with an average of 5.4 million total viewers last year. The second daytime telecast window averaged 7.6 million total viewers to garner the most-viewed game window in 23 years. The window is up 6% over an average of 7.2 million total viewers last year.

The first primetime telecast window averaged 11.4 million total viewers to register the highest viewership for the game window in 23 years. The window is up 3% over an average of 11.1 million total viewers in 2013. The second primetime window averaged 8.7 million total viewers.

The first daytime telecast window (12:00-4:45 p.m. ET) averaged a 4.6/15 to deliver the highest rating for the time slot in 23 years.  The telecast window is up 12% compared with a 4.1/14 last year. The second daytime telecast window (2:45-7:15 p.m.) averaged a 5.4/14 to garner the second highest rating for the time slot since 1991.

The first primetime telecast window (6:45-10:30 p.m.) averaged a 7.7/15 to register the highest rating for the time slot in 23 years. The window is up 4% over a 7.4/14 in 2013. The second primetime window (9:30 p.m.-1:45 a.m.) averaged a 6.2/12…

…NBCSN’s Premier League coverage of Manchester United vs. Liverpool and and Tottenham Hotspur v. Arsenal on March 16, averaged 725,000 viewers to rank as the most-watched Premier League Sunday doubleheader on cable ever. NBCSN’s telecast of Liverpool’s 3-0 win over Manchester United averaged 779,000 viewers to rank as the most-watched early-morning Sunday match this season, the fourth most-watched Premier League match on NBCSN this season, and fifth most-watched ever on cable. Since the start of the 2013-2014 Premier League season, NBCSN has posted four of the five most-watched Premier League cable telecasts on record. Man U vs Man City on ESPN on April 30, 2012 and Chelsea vs. Man U on Jan. 19, 2014 on NBCSN tied for the most watched matches on cable with 1 million viewers…

In addition, NBC Sports Live Extra reported 1,968,974 minutes of live streaming for Manchester United v. Liverpool, the most ever for a Sunday match. Live Extra users streamed 3.4 million minutes of Sunday’s Premier League doubleheader action – the second-most minutes for a Premier League Sunday this season (The four matches on December, 29, 2013, totaled 3.6 million minutes).

…The week before, Barcelona’s 2-1 Champions League victory over Manchester City on March 12, which sent the Spanish side to the quarterfinals of the tournament, scored 420,000 viewers, making it the most-watched soccer match in FOX Sports 1 history. On March 11, Bayern Munich and Arsenal delivered 363,000 viewers, were enough to secure the third most-watched UEFA Champions League match to date on the network, behind Barcelona-Manchester City’s 395,000 on February 18. That 363,000 is also 56% above the average of the four prior Round of 16 matches on FOX Sports 1. Preceding the two matches on FOX Sports 1, the UEFA Champions League Pregame Show drew 118,000 viewers on Tuesday and Wednesday, tied for the highest-watched UEFA Champions League pregame show of all-time on FOX Sports 1…

…MSG Network’s live coverage of the New York Knicks’ introduction of Phil Jackson as the new team president at Tuesday’s press conference averaged a 1.26 M25-54 rating and a 1.19 M18-49 rating between 11:00 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., topping all broadcast and cable networks in the New York market during that time frame…

…With a significant rain delay forcing a portion of the race from Fox to Fox Sports 1, Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Food City 500 from Bristol, TN, earned a 4.1 overnight rating on FOX, down 7% from last year (4.4). FOX aired only 45 minutes of live race coverage. The remainder of the race earned a 1.8 overnight on Fox Sports 1. (SportsMediaWatch)…

Sunday’s Rockets/Heat NBA regular season game on ABC earned a 2.6 overnight rating, up 13% from Knicks/Clippers last year (2.3), and only the second ABC game of the season to increase over last year. (SportsMediaWatch)…

Spike TV saw 1,035,000 viewers tune in from 10:45-11p to watch the Bellator featherweight title fight on Friday. Overall, the Bellator 112 card delivered 699,000 viewers, according to Nielsen, up from Bellator 111’s comparable 653,000. (Cynopsis Sports)

Final round coverage of the PGA Tour Tampa Bay Championship earned a 1.8 overnight rating on NBC, down 10% from last year (2.0). On Saturday, third round action drew a 1.3 overnight — even with both last year and 2012. (SportsMediaWatch)…