Ratings Roundup: NFL Draft Up on ESPN, NFL Network; Leicester’s Cinderella Story Drives Ratings for NBCSN

ESPN/ESPN2’s three-day presentation of the 2016 NFL Draft (April 28-30) – including the first two nights in prime time – delivered a 2.0 US household rating and 3,020,000 viewers (based on Nielsen fast nationals) up slightly from last year’s 1.9 rating and 2,931,000 viewers. NFL Network, meanwhile, averaged a 0.82 HH rating and 1.28M viewers, making 2016 the highest rated and most-watched NFL Draft on NFL Network since the beginning of the new three-day format (2010).

Draft-AuditoriumStage-on-demand-sliderOverall, this year’s Draft ranks as the seventh most-viewed NFL Draft on ESPN/ESPN2 since 1994. The top-10 metered markets for ESPN’s three days of television coverage were Cleveland (6.3), Columbus (6.2), New Orleans (4.0), Dayton (4.0), Jacksonville (3.7), Birmingham (3.5), Buffalo (3.4), Milwaukee (3.3), Philadelphia (3.2), and (tied) Nashville and Minneapolis-St. Paul (3.1).

ESPN saw more than 3.1 million people tuning in across TV and WatchESPN. This was the most-viewed NFL Draft ever on WatchESPN – overall and for each day of coverage. WatchESPN delivered an average minute audience of 198,000 for Round 1, a 37 percent gain year-over-year. ESPN digital’s total average minute audience across web, app and streaming video for NFL content during the Round 1 live window was 797,000, up eight percent from 2015. WatchESPN delivered an average minute audience of 67,000 for Rounds 2-3 of the NFL Draft, up 52 percent year-over-year. WatchESPN delivered an average minute audience of 39,000 for coverage of Rounds 4-7, up 35 percent year-over-year.

ESPN’s round 1 coverage averaged 6,289,000 viewers and a 3.9 rating. Coverage peaked in the 8:30-9 p.m. half hour with a 4.6 rating and 7,465,000 viewers. The top-10 markets: Cleveland (13.3), Columbus (13.1), New Orleans (7.8), Dayton (7.7), Birmingham (7.5), Jacksonville (7.2), Philadelphia (7.0), Minneapolis-St. Paul (6.9), Buffalo (6.6) and Nashville (6.1).

ESPN/ESPN2’s primetime coverage of Rounds 2 and 3 on Friday delivered a 1.5 US household rating and 2,260,000 viewers, up from last year. The telecast peaked on ESPN from 7:30-7:59 p.m. with a 1.8 rating and 2,652,000 viewers. ESPN’s opening hour of coverage (7-7:59 p.m.) delivered a 1.6 rating and 2,409,000 viewers, while the ESPN2 portion (7:59-11:22 p.m.) delivered a 1.4 rating and 2,217,000 viewers.

The nearly seven hours of Rounds 4-7 coverage (12-6:48 p.m. ET) on ESPN on Saturday delivered a 1.2 US rating and 1,705,000 viewers, based on fast nationals, making it the third highest-rated and third most-viewed Saturday since the new format in 2010. The telecast peaked during the 1-1:30 p.m. half hour with a 1.3 rating and 1,917,000 viewers…

…NFL Network, meanwhile, averaged a 0.82 HH rating and 1.28M viewers, making 2016 the highest rated and most-watched NFL Draft on NFL Network since the beginning of the new three-day format (2010).

As for NFL Digital Media (NFL Mobile from Verizon, NFL.com, and NFL Now), fans spent over 545 million minutes engaging with NFL Digital Media properties over the three days of the 2016 NFL Draft. Over 38 million minutes of live draft coverage were watched on NFL Now (+337% YOY), reaching totals 2.5X higher than the week of Super Bowl 50

Leicester’ Cinderella Story Drives Ratings
NBCSN earned its best Premier League overnight rating ever with a .83 for Sunday’s Leicester City/Manchester United match. Top markets included Austin, West Palm Beach, DC, Kansas City and Chicago.

On Monday,  Leicester City became champions after second-place Tottenham failed to win against Chelsea on Monday, drawing 2-2. The thrilling match ranks as the most-streamed match ever on NBC Sports Live Extra, delivering 145,000 unique users and 8.5 million live minutes. The Foxes’ 1-1 draw against Manchester United on Sunday averaged 908,000 viewers to rank as NBCSN’s most-watched match since Arsenal-Chelsea on April 26, 2015 (979,000 average viewers). Leicester City-Manchester United also ranks as Live Extra’s second-most streamed match ever, delivering 143,000 unique users and 7.2 million live minutes…

NBA Playoffs on TNT, ESPN, and NBA TV
Despite Steph Curry’s absence, Game 1 of the Blazers/Warriors NBA playoff series delivered a 4.1 final rating and 6.7 million viewers on ABC last Sunday, up 37% in ratings and 41% in viewership from Grizzlies/Warriors Game 1 last year (3.0, 4.7M) and down 2% and up 3%, respectively, from Mavericks/Spurs Game 7 in 2014 (4.2, 6.5M). (SMW)…

…On April 25, NBA TV saw its coverage of Game 4 between the Heat/Hornets average 662,000 viewers for the network, to mark the channel’s most-viewed playoffs telecast since 2014. Through its first four NBA Playoffs showings, NBA TV is averaging 471,000 total viewers, for a rise of 21% over comparable programming in 2015. (Cynopsis Sports)…

…On April 22, the Golden State Warriors-Houston Rockets Game 4 on ABC was the most-watched first round NBA Playoffs game on any network in 14 years (since 2002). The broadcast averaged 7,238,000 viewers (p2+) and a 4.5 U.S. household rating. It peaked from 5:30- 6 p.m. ET with 8,346,000 viewers (p2+) and a 5.0 U.S. household rating. Game 4 on ABC was up 11 percent in viewership and 10 percent in rating from last year’s comparable first round game between the L.A. Clippers-San Antonio Spurs which drew 6,514,000 (p2+) and a 4.1 U.S. rating. The game is the most-watched first round NBA Playoffs game since April 21, 2002, when the L.A. Lakers played the Portland Trail Blazers.

Game 4 delivered a 20.7 rating in the San Francisco market, making it the highest-rated first round NBA Playoffs game in the market across any network as far as records go back (2003). In Houston, the game drew a 10.9 rating, making it the second-highest rated NBA Playoffs first round game in the market, on any network, as far as records go back (2003).

The Golden State Warriors-Houston Rockets Game 4 set cross-metric records for the first round of the NBA Playoffs on WatchESPN. The game streamed 16.4 million total minutes, drew 306,500 unique viewers and generated an average minute audience of 103,500 viewers…

NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on NBCSN, Locally
Game 4 of the Penguins/Capitals Stanley Cup playoff series earned a 1.1 final rating and 1.8 million viewers on NBCSN Wednesday night, up 38% in ratings and 37% in viewership from Rangers/Capitals last year (0.8, 1.3M) and up 22% and 31%, respectively, from Penguins/Rangers in 2014 (0.9, 1.4M). The game ranks as the most-watched game of the playoffs on cable. (SMW)

The second most-watched game on cable thus far goes to Capitals/Penguins Game 3 on NBCSN on Monday, which averaged 1.647 million viewers. The telecast drew a 0.95 Nielsen rating for a 14% increase over last year’s equivalent game…

…However, other series have struggled on NBC networks. Tuesday’s Lightning/Islanders Game 3 had 873,000 viewers, down 50% from Blackhawks/Wild last year (1.8M) and down 42% from Bruins/Canadiens in 2014 (1.5M). Stars/Blues Game 3 had 837,000 later in the night; there was no comparable year-ago window. On USA Network, Game 3 of Ducks/Predators had 470,000 viewers — down 14% from Ducks/Flames last year (545K) and down 67% from Blackhakws/Wild on CNBC in 2014 (1.4M). (SMW)…

…On April 23, Game 7 of the Chicago Blackhawks vs. St. Louis Blues on NBCSN averaged 1.353 million viewers to rank as the most-watched first-round game in the network’s history, as the Blues defeated the Blackhawks 3-2 to win the series and eliminate the defending Stanley Cup Champions. The game peaked at 2.0 million viewers in the final full quarter hour (11-11:15 p.m. ET). Digitally, the game finished with 11.6 million minutes streamed on NBC Sports Live Extra to rank fourth all-time among NHL games.

Locally, CSN Chicago’s presentation of Hawks-Blues Game 7 delivered a 19.1 HH rating in Chicago to rank as the most-watched telecast ever in the history of the network, dating back to 2004. The rating shattered CSN Chicago’s previous all-time high of a 13.7 HH rating for a Bulls-Pacers first-round NBA Playoff telecast (April 21, 2011).

The game was also the most-watched telecast in the history of FOX Sports Midwest. The series finale earned a 19.6 rating in the St. Louis DMA, averaging 239,000 households. Viewing peaked at a 25.3 rating/308,000 households/39 share at the end of the game. The previously highest-rated event on FOX Sports Midwest was the St. Louis Cardinals’ victory at Houston on Sept. 28, 2011 – the final day of the regular season, on which the Cardinals’ win and subsequent Atlanta loss put the Cardinals in the postseason. That Cardinals game earned an 18.0. Blues-Blackhawks was the No. 1 program of the day in St. Louis. During the game, from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m., it beat the combined rating of St. Louis’ ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC affiliates (17.9). All seven games of the series were the No. 1 program of the day in St. Louis. Game 7 was the most-watched program in St. Louis since the Super Bowl on Feb. 7. The previous high for a Blues game came was a 15.0 for Game 5 against Chicago the week prior…

…NBC’s presentation of Game 6 of the Blackhawks-Blues series on Saturday night (8-11 p.m. ET) averaged 2.822 million viewers to rank as NBC’s most-watched first-round game in four years (BOS-WSH, 4/22/12; 3.519 million), and the fourth-best on record.

ESPN’s Regular Season NBA Numbers Up
Viewership and ratings for the 2015-16 NBA regular season were up on both ABC and ESPN, compared to last season. After 16 NBA games on ABC, including the company’s new NBA Saturday Primetime on ABC series and a Christmas doubleheader, the network averaged 3,926,000 viewers (p2+) and a 2.3 U.S. household rating. This is up nine percent and five percent from 3,588,000 viewers and a 2.2 rating last season. At the conclusion of 76 NBA games on ESPN, the network averaged 1,652,000 viewers (p2+) and a 1.1 U.S. household rating. Both metrics are up 10 percent from 1,504,000 viewers and a 1.0 rating last season. ESPN’s and ABC’s new franchise – NBA Saturday Primetime on ABC presented by La Quinta – consistently scored for the company in its inaugural season. The eight-game series averaged 3,466,000 viewers (p2+) and a 2.1 U.S. household rating. NBA Saturday Primetime on ABC won the night across all of television five times in key male and people demos.

In addition, NBA Countdown – ABC’s NBA pregame show – averaged 1,556,000 viewers (p2+) and a 1.0 U.S. household rating, up 26 percent and 11 percent from 1,232,000 viewers and a 0.9 rating last season.  In its inaugural season, NBA Saturday Primetime on ABC was home to the most-watched (non-Christmas) regular-season NBA game on any network since 2014 when the Golden State Warriors met the Oklahoma City Thunder (Feb. 27, 2016: 5,322,000 viewers, p2+).

The WatchESPN audience was also up for the 2015-16 NBA regular season, compared to last year. A total of 527 million minutes were streamed, 12 percent more than the previous three seasons combined.  In total, WatchESPN averaged 4,600,000 total minutes streamed per game, up 77 percent from the 2014-15 regular season. Additionally, it captured an average of 140,000 unique viewers per game and an average minute audience of 37,000, up 75 percent and 90 percent year over year. Six of the 10 most-watched NBA regular-season games ever on WatchESPN transpired this season, including the top two simultaneously on April 13, 2016: the Utah Jazz at the L.A. Lakers (average minute audience of 138,000) and the Memphis Grizzlies at the Golden State Warriors (average minute audience of 111,000).

Among the highlights: televised its most-watched (non-Christmas) regular-season game in more than two years, since 2014, when the Golden State Warriors set the NBA record for most wins in a season against the Memphis Grizzlies (April 13, 2016: 3,649,000 viewers, p2+). ESPN2 delivered its most-watched NBA game in its history when Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers played in his final game against the Utah Jazz (April 13, 2016: 3,465,000 viewers, p2+). The most-watched game this season across any network was the Christmas NBA Finals rematch between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers on ABC. It averaged 11,160,000 viewers (p2+) and is the fourth-most watched regular-season game on any network as far as records go back.

#WhatanApril for CSN Chicago
Fueled by the highest-rated pro game telecast in network history (Blackhawks at St. Louis/Game 7 – 19.07 Chicago market household rating) and the ultra-hot starts for the the White Sox and Cubs, Comcast SportsNet was the #1-highest rated “cable” television network in the Chicago market during primetime (7:00-10:00 PM CT) for every major TV ratings category including Households (HH) & all key Adult, Male, and Female demo categories. Comcast SportsNet was also #1 “overall” in primetime (which includes all broadcast TV stations) in the demo categories of Men 18-34, Men 18-49, and Men 25-54 (NOTE: Comcast SportsNet was #2 overall in Adults 18-34 and #3 overall in Adults 18-49 & Adults 25-54). Over 5.5 MILLION Chicago market TV households tuned in to 45 live professional game telecasts from April 1 – May 1 (Blackhawks: three regular season/five playoffs; Bulls: three regular season; Cubs: 14 regular season; White Sox: 17 regular season; and Fire: three regular season).

Comcast SportsNet also attracted an additional 3.7 million Chicago market TV homes tuning in for all editions of Pregame Live and Postgame Live, along with the network’s locally-produced, live sports news, talk, and Original Content programming, which includes SportsNet Central andSportsTalk Live.

Comcast SportsNet’s live streaming of its Chicago Bulls game telecasts experienced significant year-to-year traffic growth as over 10.9 MILLION total minutes were consumed by fans in the network’s second season of live streaming coverage on CSNChicago.com and via the NBC Sports Live Extra app (an increase of 30% compared to the 2014-15 season)…

Big Weekend Up North
It was a big weekend on Sportsnet, with four marquee sports events cracking the 1 million viewer mark and Sportsnet rounding out the month of April as the #1 destination for sports fans in Canada.

Sunday’s Game 7 Toronto Raptors win against the Indiana Pacers had an average audience of 1.53 million viewers, making it the most-watched Raptors game ever in Canada.  The game reached 4.4 million Canadians, with audience levels peaking at 2.63 million at 10:30 p.m. ET as the Raptors clinched a berth in Round 2 of the 2016 NBA Playoffs.  It was the most-watched program in Canada on Sunday night.

Sportsnet closed out April with a 6.9 audience share – more than double its closest competitor (3.1 share).  This also marks year-over-year growth for Sportsnet in April (5.8 audience share in 2015).

In addition, the NHL Draft Lottery won the night for Sportsnet on Saturday with an average of 1.57 million viewers

Pittsburgh @ Washington Stanley Cup Playoffs (Round 2) delivered an average of 1.5 million viewers on CBC.  Both Penguins vs. Capitals Round 2 games have exceeded 1 million viewers

Blue Jays vs. Tampa Bay Rays on early Saturday evening attracted an average of 1.1 million viewers.  A total of five Blue Jays broadcasts this season have surpassed the 1 million viewer mark.  Toronto Blue Jays audiences are up 58% this year on Sportsnet and Sportsnet ONE compared to the same time last season…

Odds and Ends
Sunday’s NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES race from Talladega Superspeedway, won by Brad Keselowski, delivered a 4.0/10 and 6.7 million viewers, matching last year’s performance on a HH Rating basis and ticking up +6% on average audience (6.7 million vs. 6.3 million). However, the 4.0 rating is tied as the lowest for the race since it last aired on cable in 1997, according to SMW. On FOX Sports Go, Sunday’s race produced 54,318 streams with 25,372 unique streamers and 969,679 minutes streamed.

In addition, Saturday’s NASCAR XFINITY SERIES race on FOX posted increases for the Talladega 300 with a 1.9/5 and 2.9 million viewers, up +19% over last year’s 1.6/4 (2.4 million) to rank as the most-watched Xfinity Series telecast on any network since 2013’s running of the Daytona 300 on ESPN. It marks the fifth consecutive NASCAR XFINITY SERIES race to be either flat or up versus 2015 comparable events…

…Saturday night saw PBC on FOX, which saw Andre Berto serve up a fourth-round TKO over Victor Ortiz, average 2.0 million viewers. Overall, the telecast scored a 1.1 / 2 rating and averaged 1.6 million viewers. (Cynopsis Sports)