Ratings Roundup: UNC-Duke on ESPN Is Most Watched College Hoops Game of the Season

ESPN’s coverage of No. 8 North Carolina at No. 17 Duke on March 5 averaged 3,174,000 viewers, making it the most-watched college basketball game on record of the 2015-16 season on TV. However, Saturday’s game’s 1.9 final rating and viewership were down 27% in ratings and 25% in viewership from the teams’ second meeting last season (2.6, 4.2M).

unc-dukeOn WatchESPN, the Tar Heels-Blue Devils season finale added 69,000 average minute impressions to the TV audience, with 229,000 viewers watching 8,795,000 minutes, up 46%, 51%, 37%, respectively, from last season’s season finale for the two ACC rivals (March 7, 2015). :  On WatchESPN, across approximately 1,800 games, average minute impressions are up 66%, unique viewers up 62% and total minutes viewed up 63% from last season, per game…

…Additionally, ESPN’s college basketball schedule resulted in the four most-watched games of the season on record across all networks (No. 8 North Carolina at No. 17 Duke on March 5 averaged 3,174,000 viewers, Kentucky vs Duke on Nov. 17 – 3,120,000, Kentucky at Kansas on Jan. 30, Duke at North Carolina on Feb. 17 – 2,863,000)…

…ESPN’s Monday night doubleheader featuring an ACC matchup (7 p.m.) followed by a Big 12 game (9 p.m.) averaged 1,477,000 viewers per game (16 games), up 9% from the 2014-2015 season (16 games).  Big Mondays also experienced a 19% increase in rating among men 18-34 demographic. ESPN’s Thursday night telecasts which involved ACC, American, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC  as  part of a doubleheader (7 p.m. and 9 p.m.) averaged 922,000 viewers per game (17 games), up 10% from the 2014-15 season (17 games)…

…The March 6 NBA Sunday Showcase on ABC – the Los Angeles Lakers upset the Golden State Warriors 112-95 – generated a 2.9 overnight rating, up 26 percent from last year’s comparable game (Warriors-L.A. Clippers, 2.3 overnight rating), according to Nielsen. The telecast peaked at 3.9 from 5:45-6 p.m. ET. The telecast matched the second-highest rated NBA game across ESPN networks this season (non-Christmas) and the highest-rated NBA Sunday Showcase telecast in nearly one year. Locally, the NBA Sunday Showcase delivered a 13.0 in the San Francisco market, making it the highest-rated NBA regular-season game ever on ESPN networks, excluding Christmas, in the market. In Los Angeles, the telecast generated a 4.4, which is the highest-rated regular-season NBA game in the market (non-Christmas) since 2014….

…However, Saturday’s Rockets/Bulls NBA game on ABC the day before scored just a 1.2 final rating and 1.9 million viewers, the lowest rating and viewership ever for an NBA game on primetime over-the-air television. The previous lows were 2.1 and 3.3 million for Spurs/Cavaliers in January. Prior to this year, nearly all of the primetime NBA games on network television took place during the playoffs or on Christmas Day — not on ordinary Saturday nights during the regular season. (SportsMediaWatch)…

…Univision Deportes is the fastest-growing cable sports network, regardless of language, for the month of February, outperforming all cable sports networks including ESPN, Fox Sports and NBC Sports Network. UDN averaged 186,000 Total Viewers 2+ and 113,000 Adults 18-49 in primetime, an increase of +94% and +92% from a year ago, respectively. UDN ranks as the No. 1 Spanish-language sports network in total day and primetime among Total Viewers 2+ and Adults 18-49, outperforming ESPN Deportes, Fox Deportes. In primetime, UDN ranked in the top 5 of all cable sports networks, regardless of language, among Total Viewers 2+ and Adults 18-49 for the month of February.

In February, Liga MX on UDN increased +29% versus last year among Total Viewers and +38% versus last year among Adults 18-49. The Liga MX match between Tigres and America that aired on February 27th on UDN was the most-viewed club soccer match on any cable network, regardless of language, for the month of February. The match averaged 724,000 Total Viewers 2+ and 488,000 Adults 18-49. Univision Deportes has aired the top 5 soccer matches of 2016 among all key demos, besting all English Premier League matches on NBC Networks. During the week of February 8th, UDN out-delivered ESPN2, NBC Sports Network and Fox Sports 1, among others, in primetime among Adults 18-49. It was the second most-viewed cable sports network regardless of language, trailing only ESPN…

…This past Saturday’s UFC 196 prelims, headlined by Brandon Thatch vs. Siyar Bahadurzada, delivered 1,843,000 viewers, the second-most for that type of a show on FS 1. A record was set the day before as the weigh-ins on Friday night did 358,000 viewers, breaking the mark of 294,000 set for the McGregor vs. Jose Aldo weigh-ins. The pre-fight show on Saturday did 767,000 viewers, another record.

The night before, Bellator brought in 768,000 viewers, peaking at 972,000 viewers for the Fernando Gonzalezvs. Gilbert Smith match that was the No. 2 bout on the show. That is up from the Cheick Kongo vs. Vinicius Queiroz-headlined show the prior Friday that did 733,000 viewers. (MMAFighting.com)…

…Golf Channel saw the season premiere of Feherty draw an average of 325,000 viewers in official Live+Same Day numbers, for a rise of 213% over last season’s premiere. With a .33 HH Cvg rating, the episode now ranks as the second-highest rated episode premiere of Feherty in the history of the series. Meanwhile, NBC’s coverage of the WGC-Cadillac Championship’s Final Round on Sunday drew 4.018 million viewers for a 22% spike year-over-year, to generate a 2.63 household rating. That marks the most-watched PGA TOUR Round on NBC since The Players Final Round in May 2015. (Cynopsis Sports)…