Ratings Roundup: MLB Postseason on TBS Hits All-Time High, Small-Market ALCS Struggles on FS1

TBS saw record viewership for the National League side of the MLB Postseason, while Fox Sports 1 is struggling in the ALCS without a big-market U.S. team in the mix. On the gridiron, Michigan’s heartbreaking loss to Michigan State delivered record numbers for ESPN, while the NFL on NBC and CBS are on pace for the best seasons in decades.

TBS Hits Record High for MLB Postseason
TBS’s coverage of the NL Wild Card, Division Series and League Championship Series averaged 6.3 million total viewers and a 3.9 U.S. HH rating for 14 game telecasts to deliver the network’s most-viewed postseason coverage of all time, according to Nielsen Fast Nationals.  This year’s MLB Postseason on TBS is up 48% in total viewers and 44% in U.S. HH rating over the network’s postseason telecasts in 2014.  TBS’ MLB Postseason coverage also generated double-digit growth across all key demos including a 58% increase in People 18-49.

MLB postseasonThe network’s exclusive coverage of the 2015 National League Championship Series – with the New York Mets sweeping the Chicago Cubs in four games – averaged 7.9 million total viewers and a 4.8 U.S. HH rating to garner TBS’ most-viewed NLCS coverage of all time and the most-watched NLCS across all of television since 2010.  This year’s NLCS coverage is up 58% in total viewers and 50% in U.S. HH rating over the network’s NLCS telecasts in 2013, with increases of 55% in total viewers and 50% in U.S. HH rating vs. last year’s comparable ALCS airing on TBS.

Wednesday night’s decisive NLCS Game 4 on TBS generated an average of 7.9 million total viewers and a 5.0 U.S. HH rating – peaking with an average of 8.6 million total viewers from 10:30-10:45 p.m. ET – to rank as the network’s most-viewed NLCS Game 4 on record.  The telecast won the night across all of cable television, based on metered market delivery. This years’ NLCS Game 4 is up 99% in total viewers and 86% in U.S. HH rating over the network’s ALCS Game 4 telecast last year (Kansas City/Baltimore, ALCS Game 4 – four million total viewers; 2.7 U.S. HH rating). Locally, the telecast delivered an 18.9 HH rating in Chicago and an 18.8 HH rating in New York.

Turner’s TV Everywhere platforms also delivered record-setting numbers this postseason including more than 63 million minutes consumed, an increase of 60% over last year.  Live streaming across the platforms was also up 126% in unique visits during the postseason and 74% in video streams. Social media impressions are up 338% collectively across Twitter and Facebook for Bleacher Report MLB social accounts over last year.

Fox Sports Struggles After Big Game 1
While TBS has hit record highs, Fox finds itself on the opposite end of the spectrum thanks largely a matchup featuring the small-market Kansas City Royals and Canadian market Toronto Blue Jays.

Game 5 of the Royals/Blue Jays American League Championship Series drew 2.6 million viewers on Fox Sports 1 Wednesday afternoon, down 47% from Cardinals/Giants last year (4.9M) and down 70% from Red Sox/Tigers on FOX in 2013 (8.6M), both of which aired on Thursday nights. The Blue Jays’ win ranks as the least-watched LCS telecast ever in the U.S., falling slightly below the previous mark set by Game 4 of the series the previous day (from 2.60M to 2.58M). The Royals/Blue Jays series has already generated the three smallest LCS audiences ever, with Saturday’s Game 2 ranking third (2.7M).

Game 1, however, posted a 4.0/8 household rating/share with 6.5 million viewers, up +29% in rating and +30% in audience compared to the FOX/FS1 telecast of NLCS Game 1 last year (3.1/6, 5.0 million combined) and out-rating every LCS game played a year ago. Locally, Kansas City led all markets with a massive 41.3 rating.

Meanwhile, MLB Network is drumming up is best-ever audiences for the MLB Postseason. The channel reports that so far, total day audiences are up 23% vs 2014, with 30% audience growth for live editions of MLB Tonight before and after every Postseason game.

Wolverines Heartbreak Pays Off Big for ESPN
In week 7, ESPN televised its third most-watched regular season college football Saturday ever and its best October Saturday ever (dating back to 1994) led by No. 7 Michigan State at No. 12 Michigan (3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN), which averaged 7,398,000 viewers throughout the telecast and 11,549,000 viewers for the game’s final play (7:15 p.m. – 7:24 p.m.).

The Spartans-Wolverines game was college football’s most-watched game last weekend across all networks and ranks as ESPN’s most-viewed 3:30 p.m. game ever (records date back to 1990). The game was ESPN’s most- watched October college football game in more than 20 years and second best overall, trailing only Florida State at Miami on October 8, 1994 (7,677,000 viewers). In addition, the game was WatchESPN’s second-most-streamed regular season college football game ever, with 167,000 average minute impressions on top of the TV audience and a total of 697,000 unique viewers accounting for 39,424,000 minutes viewed

No. 8 Florida at No. 6 LSU (7 p.m. on ESPN) was the top prime-time game and second-most-watched college football game of week 7 across all networks, averaging 6,778,000 viewers. Additionally, the matchup was WatchESPN’s third-best college football game ever and second-most watched of the week, adding 146,000 average minute impressions on top of the TV audience and a total of 694,000 unique viewers accounting for 32,982,000 minutes viewed.

ESPN averaged 3,431,000 viewers on Saturday, Oct. 10, into Sunday, Oct. 11 (6 a.m. to 6 a.m.), making it the third most-watched regular season college football Saturday and the most-watched October Saturday ever (dating back to 1994)

ABC Saturday Night Football — Penn State at No.1 Ohio State (8 p.m.) averaged 5,867,000 viewers, the third-most-watched game of Week 7 across all networks.

Arizona State at No. 4 Utah (10 p.m. on ESPN) — Averaged 3,059,000 viewers, the most-watched late-night game (10 p.m. or later) of the season across all networks, surpassing No. 23 Cal at No. 5 Utah game (2,820,000 viewers) on ESPN in week 6.

Louisville at No. 11 Florida State (noon on ESPN) — Averaged 2,852,000 viewers, up 43% against the comparable window last year (Florida State at Syracuse).

NFL Ratings Roundup
NBC’s Sunday Night Football has posted viewership increases for an unprecedented seven consecutive games to open the season, resulting in the best start in nearly two decades for the NFL’s premier primetime package. Through the opening six weeks of the NFL season (seven telecasts), NBC’s Sunday Night Football is averaging 24.1 million viewers – the best viewership for the NFL’s broadcast primetime package at this point in the season in 19 years (24.5 million in 1996.  SNF is averaging a 14.1/24 household rating – the best start for the broadcast primetime package in 18 years (14.8/26 in 1997). In addition, Sunday Night Football is averaging an 8.9 rating in the Adult 18-49 demographic, up 6% from this point last season. SNF viewership is up 10% from last year at this time (21.9 million viewers), while HH rating has increased 9% (12.9/21).

Football Night in America (7:30-8:15 p.m. ET) is averaging 9.8 million viewers – the best start in the show’s 10-season history and up 20% from last year at this point (8.2 million). In addition, the 8-8:30 p.m. ET portion of Football Night in America (including pre-kick coverage), is averaging 13.9 million viewers, and a 5.0 rating among Adults 18-49, which would rank No. 5 among regularly-scheduled primetime shows in the demographic.

New England’s 34-27 victory over the Indianapolis Colts drew an average of 22.8 million viewers, ranking as the most-watched Week 6 primetime game in SNF on NBC history and up 26% from last year’s Week 6 SNF matchup (18.1 million for Giants-Eagles). In addition, Patriots-Colts is the most-watched NFL primetime game facing an MLB League Championship Series game since 1996 (49ers-Packers, 26.5 million on ABC). The New England-Indianapolis Sunday Night Football telecast (8:31-11:32 p.m. ET) posted a 13.1/21 national household rating, up 21% from last year’s Week 6 game (10.8/18)…

…The NFL on CBS is averaging 18.9 million viewers to rank as the highest number of average viewers for the first six weeks of the season for the AFC television package in at least 29 years. Viewership is up 6% over last year’s numbers at this point while its rating/share of 11.2/24 is up 6%. (Cynopsis Sports)…

…ESPN’s Monday Night Football Eagles-Giants game averaged an 8.7 US household rating and 13,901,000 viewers (P2+), according to Nielsen. The game peaked from 9:45-10 p.m. ET with a 10.5 rating and 16,942,000 viewers. The 10-10:15 p.m. quarter-hour – which included halftime and the exclusive debut of Lucasfilm’s new trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens (10:08 – 10:11 p.m.) – averaged a 9.7 rating and 15,887,000 viewers. The telecast won the night among all networks – broadcast or cable – in households, viewers and all key male and adult demos.

In New York, the game delivered a 9.4 rating on ESPN and a 4.6 on WPIX-CW, for a combined 14.0 rating in the market. In Philadelphia, the game delivered a 16.5 rating on ESPN and a 15.8 on WPHL-IND, for a combined 32.3 rating in the market.

The Spanish-language telecast of MNF on ESPN Deportes averaged a 0.4 Hispanic Household rating with 53,000 Hispanic Household impressions and 82,000 Hispanic viewers (P2+). Giants-Eagles ranks as the network’s second highest-rated game this season behind the opening night 49ers-Vikings game (0.5 Hispanic Household rating and 107,000 Hispanic viewers). Season-to-date, MNF on ESPN Deportes is averaging a 0.3 Hispanic Household rating with 50,000 Hispanic Household impressions and 71,000 Hispanic viewers.

Giants-Eagles logged the third-largest audience ever for MNF on WatchESPN, attracting an additional 214,000 average minute impressions to the TV audience, up 89 percent compared to last year’s Week 6 MNF game. It also had 670,000 unique viewers watching 43,594,000 live minutes – up 96 percent and 85 percent, respectively…

…The Week 6 NFL singleheader window, featuring Panthers/Seahawks in 38% of markets, drew an 11.3 overnight rating on FOX Sunday afternoon — up 7% from last year (10.6) and up 4% from 2013 (10.9), both of which aired on CBS. (SMW)…

Ratings Odds and Ends
Golf Channel’s primetime coverage of the 2015 World Long Drive Championship on Tuesday and Wednesday nights hit all-time highs for the network. Tuesday night’s Round of 16 was the most-watched airing of an opening night of the event, reeling in 156,000 viewers and a .16 rating, which marks a 263% increase over the 2014 semifinals. Wednesday night’s finals generated 185,000 viewers and a .18 rating, which is a 43% spike over the 2014 finals. (Cynopsis Sports)…

…Wednesday’s Flyers/Bruins NHL regular season game had 530,000 viewers on NBCSN, down 20% from Flyers/Penguins last year (659K) and up 15% from Rangers/Capitals in 2013 (461K). The previous night, Stars/Flyers drew 289,000 viewers — up 124% from Flyers/Blackhawks last year (129K) and up 45% from Sharks/Blues in 2013 (199K). (SMW)