Ratings Roundup: Iron Bowl Is ESPN’s Most-Viewed Regular-Season CFB Game Ever; F1 Sees Gains on NBC

ESPN’s nearly 15 consecutive hours of college football studio and game content on Saturday, Nov. 29 – beginning at 9 a.m. ET with College GameDay Built by The Home Depot and concluding with its most-viewed regular-season game on record (since 1990) for Alabama’s victory over Auburn – averaged 6,266,000 viewers and a 3.6 HH US rating, helping to make it the network’s most-viewed Saturday ever during the regular-season (August to December). Total day programming on ESPN (6 a.m. November 29 to 6 a.m. November 30) averaged 4,416,000 viewers and a 2.6 HH US rating, setting a network record for a Saturday between August and December. The previous high for consecutive college football content (5,557,000 viewers) and 24-hour day-part (3,314,000 viewers) was set on September 7 of last season.

Saturday’s prime time coverage of Alabama’s victory over Auburn on November 29 generated television and digital audience records for ESPN and WatchESPN. ESPN’s telecast averaged 13,529,000 viewers and a 7.4 HH US rating, making it the network’s most-viewed regular-season college football game on record (since 1990), surpassing USC at Ohio State in 2009 (10,586,000 viewers and a 6.3 HH US rating). The game also garnered 475,000 unique viewers and an average minute audience of 119,000 people on WatchESPN, product records for regular-season action. Overall, 2014 has produced the 10 largest average minute audiences for regular-season college football games ever…

…The significant audiences who have tuned into ESPN’s weekly Saturday Night Football on ABC – making it the most-viewed and highest-rated weekly prime time college football series on television – has led the network to post a viewership increase for overall game coverage over 2013. Overall, 33 windows on ABC is averaging 4,993,000 viewers and a 3.1 rating for increases of 6 percent (vs. 4,693,000) and 7 percent (vs. 2.9), respectively. The weekly prime time series that features multiple conferences throughout the season – concluding on December 6 with the 2014 Dr Pepper ACC Championship Game matching undefeated No. 4 Florida State vs. Coastal Division champion No. 11 Georgia Tech at 8 p.m. – is averaging 5,896,000 viewers and a 3.6 rating.

In addition to the weekly ABC telecast, ESPN’s Saturday night games are generating larger audiences than through the same point in 2013, averaging 4,566,000 viewers for a 23 percent increase vs. 3,708,000).Saturday night college football telecasts helped ABC or ESPN to be top network of the night across cable and broadcast networks among all key demographics (Men and Persons 18-34, 18-49, and 25-54) on 11 of the season’s 14 Saturdays and total viewers on eight of them…

…In its second season of presenting Formula One, NBC Sports Group’s 2014 coverage of all 19 races across NBC, NBCSN and CNBC produced record viewership, highlighted by NBCSN delivering the most-watched F1 season ever for a single cable network. NBCSN averaged 385,000 viewers for its live coverage of 12 races this season, up 86% vs. 2013 (207,000) and the best F1 season ever for a single cable network, surpassing the previous record held by SPEED in 2007 (379,000 for 13 races). NBCSN’s 2014 average viewership of 385,000 was also up 24% vs. 2012 average viewership on SPEED (311,000). In addition, all 10 races that aired on NBCSN in both 2013 and 2014 posted year-over-year viewership gains…

Across 16 races, NBCSN (12 races) and CNBC’s (4) live coverage combined to average 348,000 viewers, tying the 2011 season on SPEED as the best F1 season on cable in seven years (2007; 379,000; SPEED), up 77% vs. NBCSN/CNBC’s F1 average viewership in 2013 (197,000), and up 12% vs. SPEED’s 2012 F1  average viewership (313,000). For all 19 races*, NBC Sports Group’s coverage averaged 477,000 viewers, up 30% vs. 2013 (366,000) and up 15% vs. 2012 (414,000; FOX/SPEED; 20 races). Viewership was boosted by NBC’s presentation of the Canadian Grand Prix on June 8, which averaged 1.462 million viewers to rank as the most-watched F1 race in seven years (2007 Canadian Grand Prix, FOX, 1.494 million), and the most-watched F1 race for NBC Sports Group since it acquired exclusive Formula One rights prior to the 2013 season. NBC Sports Live Extra also saw significant gains in its streaming coverage during the 2014 F1 season, generating 6.1 million minutes streamed from live races, up 290% vs. 2013. Live Extra’s 19 F1 races in 2014 averaged 8,100 uniques and 322,000 minutes consumed, up 140% and 159% vs. those same metrics in 2013, respectively…

…The Grey Cup pulled in an average audience of 4.1 million viewers on TSN and RDS to watch the Calgary Stampeders hold off a late comeback by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in last night’s 102nd GREY CUP. This ranks as the most-watched sports program of the broadcast year to date. Overall, more than 10 million unique viewers, or approximately 30% of Canadians, watched some part of the 2014 CFL championship on TSN and in French on RDS. Audience levels for the 102nd GREY CUP peaked at 5.1 million viewers late in the game as Hamilton mounted a fourth-quarter comeback that came down to the game’s final play. The game is the highest-rated program of the calendar year in the Calgary Extended Market, attracting nearly two-thirds of the population to watch some of the game. The Calgary Extended Market recorded a 33.2 rating for the game, while 68.5% of people watching television viewed the 102nd GREY CUP. The halftime performance by rock band Imagine Dragons during the Grey Cup Half-Time Show attracted an average audience of 3.45 million viewers. An average audience of 1.8 million viewers stayed to watch TSN’s extensive post-game coverage…

…NFL Network’s telecast of Thursday Night Football on Dec. 4, which featured the Dallas Cowboys defeating the Chicago Bears 41-28, earned an average overnight household rating in the 56 metered markets of 8.0 (including over-the-air stations in Dallas and Chicago), a +115% gain from last year’s Week 14 Thursday Night Football game on NFL Network and over-the-air stations (Houston @ Jacksonville on NFLN+OTA: 3.7 Metered Market Avg.). Last night’s 8.0 overnight rating is the third highest overnight rating of all time for Thursday Night Football on NFL Network and over-the-air stations (2013 NY Jets @ New England 8.55 Metered Market Avg., 2013 Kansas City @ Philadelphia 8.21 Metered Market Avg.). The 8.0 overnight rating was +35% higher than the previous Thursday Night Football game (Kansas City @ Oakland on NFLN+OTA: 5.9 Metered Market Avg.) and is expected to be the most-watched program on cable for Dec. 4. Through 12 games of the 2014 schedule, Thursday Night Football on CBS and NFL Network (and over-the-air stations) is up +72% in the metered markets compared to last year’s games on NFL Network and the over-the-air stations in participating markets….

…CBS Sports’ Week 13 coverage of THE NFL ON CBS on Sunday, Nov. 30 , highlighted by Green Bay’s 26-21 win over New England (4:25 PM, ET), earned an average overnight household rating/share of 19.2/34, equaling as the highest-rated NFL telecast-to-date in the metered markets this season (Dallas-Seattle, 10/12/14).   The rating/share of 19.2/34 is up 10% from last year’s 17.4/31 (Denver-Kansas City, Cincinnati-San Diego) and is the highest-rated regular-season telecast in the metered markets on CBS in three years (19.5/36; New England-Denver; 12/18/11).  The New England-Green Bay telecast also was the highest-rated NFL game of the weekend.  Sunday’s national game window overnight household rating/share peaked at 22.0/36 from 7:00-7:30 PM, ET…

…Prior to that, CBS’s Thanksgiving Day broadcast of Detroit’s 34-17 win over Chicago earned its highest rating/share for a Thanksgiving Day game in 16 years. THE NFL ON CBS’s broadcast (12:45-4:00 PM, ET) earned an average overnight household rating/share of 15.3/35, up 3% from last year’s 14.8/36 (Oakland-Dallas; 4:30-8:00 PM, ET) in 55 metered markets (Boston excluded).  The rating/share also was up 9% from last year’s comparable window (14.1/33; Green Bay-Detroit; FOX; 12:30-3:45 PM, ET). The 15.3/35 is CBS’s highest-rated Thanksgiving Day game since the Network re-acquired the NFL broadcast rights in 1998. Yesterday’s game rating/share peaked with a 16.5/40 from 3:00-3:30 PM, ET…

…The Week 13 Dolphins/Jets Monday Night Football game drew a 7.4 final rating and 11.8 million viewers on ESPN, down 24% in ratings and viewership from Saints/Seahawks last year (9.7, 15.5M) and down 27% in both measures from Giants/Washington in 2012 (10.2, 16.2M). (SportsMediaWatch)…

…The Week 13 Broncos/Chiefs Sunday Night Football game drew a 12.5 final rating and 21.1 million viewers on NBC, up 16% in ratings and 19% in viewership from Giants/Washington last year (10.8, 17.7M) and up 1% and 3%, respectively, from Eagles/Cowboys in 2012 (12.4, 20.4M). (SportsMediaWatch)