Ratings Roundup: NBC Sprints to Best Preakness Rating Since 2009; Heat-Fueled Conference Finals Up Big for ESPN

…NBC Sports’ coverage of Saturday’s 139th Preakness Stakes registered a 6.0 household rating, ranking as the highest-rated Preakness Stakes since 2009 (6.8 for Rachel Alexandra’s victory). The 6.0 HH rating for California Chrome’s victory (5:49-6:39 p.m. ET) is up 2% from last year (5.9) and marks a 15% increase from 2012 when I’ll Have Another won the first two legs of the Triple Crown. Average viewership for the Preakness topped 9.5 million viewers for the second consecutive year (9.6 million in ’14; 9.7 million in ’13) after three years in a row below nine million viewers (2010-12). California Chrome’s victory topped by 19% the viewership for I’ll Have Another’s 2012 Preakness win (8.1 million viewers). Baltimore, the home of the Preakness Stakes, topped the metered markets with a 17.2 rating/39 share – up 10% from last year.

Louisville, the home of the Kentucky Derby, ranked second with a 16.6/33 – an increase of 11% from the 2013 Preakness. In addition, fans live streamed a record 1.95 million minutes of the Preakness Stakes on NBC Sports Live Extra, a 127% increase over last year for coverage. ..

…NBA Eastern Conference Finals Game Two (Heat-Pacers) on Tuesday was the third-highest rated NBA Conference Finals Game Two ever on the ESPN, The telecast generated a 5.9 overnight rating, which is up 55% from ESPN’s NBA Conference Finals Game Two coverage last year of San Antonio Spurs-Memphis Grizzlies. Locally, the telecast delivered a 24.4 rating in Miami, making it the second-highest rated NBA postseason game on ESPN ever in the market. Additionally, the telecast posted a 19.8 in Indianapolis, ranking as the second-highest rated NBA postseason game on ESPN ever in the market.

The same night The 2014 NBA Draft Lottery on ESPN delivered its highest rating ever. The telecast generated a 2.9 overnight rating, which is up 26% from a 2.3 for last year’s event

Game One off the of the series also drove big ratings as the ABC broadcast notched a 5.8 overnight rating, which is up 49 percent from last season’s Western Conference Finals Game One – San Antonio Spurs vs. Memphis Grizzlies, also on ABC. In Indianapolis, the game delivered a 20.4 rating…

…Meanwhile, the Western Conference Finals (Spurs-Thunder) on TNT got off to a big start on Game 1, but struggled during a Game 2 blowout by the Spurs. Game 1 averaged 6.4 million total viewers and a 4.0 household score. That is up 31% in total viewership and 29% in rating compared with Game 1 of the 2013 Western Conference Finals and generated a 30.3 local rating in San Antonio and a 26.1 in Oklahoma City. (Multichannel News)

Game 2, however, saw a 20% ratings drop, averaging 6,038,000 viewers and a 3.9 rating – still up 28% and 24%, respectively, over last year’s two-game average for the Western Conference Finals (Spurs vs. Memphis Grizzlies — 4,620,000 viewers; 3.1 rating), which aired on ESPN. After earning a 26.1 rating in Oklahoma City for Game 1, ratings for Game 2 — a 35-point Spurs romp — dropped 20 percent to 20.8. The average ratings are up 10 percent from the first two games of the 2012 Western Conference Finals between the same teams (25.6, 18.0). (NewsOK.com)…

…Through the second round, the NBA Playoffs on TNT averaged a 2.8 U.S. household rating and 4.3 million total viewers (39 live game telecasts), growing by +8% and +10%, respectively, over last year’s comparable coverage (2.6 U.S. HH rating; 3.9 million total viewers). The NBA Playoffs have led TNT to win the night on cable 18 times among men 18-34 and men 18-49 and 14 times among total viewers. Additionally, TNT’s Inside the NBA averaged 2,049,000 total viewers through the second round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs, a +5% increase over last year.2014 NBA Playoffs, a +5% increase over last year…

The NHL conference finals has declined substantially from last year, as Game 2 of the Kings/Blackhawks NHL Western Conference final earned 1.4 million viewers on NBCSN Wednesday night, down 29% from Game 2 of the same series last year (2.0M), but up 73% from Kings/Coyotes in 2012 (835K). Monday’s Rangers/Canadiens Game 2 drew 1.5 million, down 44% from Bruins/Penguins last year (2.6M) and up 10% from Devils/Rangers in 2012 (1.3M). (SportsMediaWatch)

…HBO’s telecast of Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Mike Alvarado from The FForum in Inglewood, CA last Saturday generated an audience of 1,198,000 viewers, making it the second most watched bout on cable so far this year. The matchup attracted a peak viewership of 1,322,000 viewers. The undercard fight of Viktor Postol vs. Selcuk Aydin – both making their HBO debut – registered 1,002,000 viewers, making it the fifth most watched bout on cable in 2014. The fight peaked with 1,137,000 viewers. (FightNews.com)…

…Last weekend Fox Sports 1 delivered its second most-watched day and its second most-watched program since launch. FS1 averaged 745,000 viewers from 6:00 AM ET to 6:00 PM ET on Saturday (5/17), headlined by live coverage of the NASCAR SPRINT ALL-STAR RACE averaging 3,482,000 viewers. The NASCAR SPRINT ALL-STAR RACE was also the most-watched sports event, and the most watched ad-supported cable telecast of the weekend, with viewership peaking at 4,027,000 between 10:30-10:45 PM ET.  Preceding the race, All-Star Race Qualifying scored 2,014,000 viewers, almost tripling last year’s average of 690,000. The post-race edition of FOX SPORTS LIVE set a new audience record, garnering 2,584,000 viewers, surpassing the previous mark of 2,272,000 recorded on Feb. 20, 2014.

Earlier in the day the Pittsburgh Pirates-New York Yankees contest posted 481,000 viewers, making it FOX Sports 1’s most-watched non-exclusive MLB game to-date. Opening 10 DAYS OF THUNDER on Friday (5/16) with 12 consecutive hours live from Charlotte Motor Speedway, FOX Sports 1 was the most-watched network among ad-supported cable sports networks from 7:00-11:00 PM ET, averaging 1,076,000 viewers. Running on Friday night for the first time, the NASCAR ALL-STAR SHOWDOWN, the last-chance qualifier for the All-Star event, scored 1,217,000 viewers. Following the Showdown, the NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES race from Charlotte posted 1,078,000 viewers, +7% from last year’s 1,007,000, with the Trucks pre-race show, NCWTS SETUP, grabbing 715,000 viewers, a +15% increase from 2013.