2015 NCAA Tournament National Championship Game Featuring Duke Over Wisconsin Scores Highest Overnight Rating In 18 Years

cbs-tnt-tbs-ncaaDuke vs. Wisconsin on CBS Delivers 17.1/27, Up 33%

2015 NCAA Tournament Across TBS, CBS, TNT and truTV Garners
Highest Overall Average Rating in 22 Years

NCAA March Madness Live Generates Record-Setting 3.4 Million Live Video Streams
for Championship Game

CBS Sports and Turner Sports’ exclusive coverage of last night’s NCAA Tournament Men’s National Championship between Duke and Wisconsin on CBS scored a 17.1/27 HH rating/share to deliver the highest overnight rating for the NCAA Men’s National Championship in the metered markets in 18 years (1997; 18.0/28, Arizona-Kentucky), based on Nielsen metered market ratings. The broadcast’s 17.1/27 is up 33% over last year (12.9/21; Connecticut-Kentucky) and peaked with a 20.1/34 from 11:00-11:30 PM, ET.

Overall, 2015 NCAA Tournament coverage across TBS, CBS, TNT and truTV averaged a 7.8/16 overnight rating/share, up 13% and is the best overnight rating in 22 years (7.9/17 in 1993).

Top five rated metered markets for last night’s game:

  • Milwaukee – 42.2/59
  • Raleigh-Durham – 36.2/54
  • Louisville – 33.5/48
  • Columbus – 29.9/44
  • Greensboro-High Point-Winston Salem – 29.5/43

Additionally, NCAA March Madness Live garnered a record-setting 3.4 million live video streams for last night’s NCAA Championship game and nearly one million hours of live video consumed, also an all-time record.  Last night’s live video streams are up 66%, with the live hours of consumption up 69% over last year.  NCAA March Madness Live generated 80.7 million live video streams and 17.8 million hours of live video consumption during this year’s tournament, both all-time highs.  This year’s live video streams are up 17%, with live hours of consumption netting a 19% increase.

The NCAA Tournament grossed a record 350 million total social impressions across Facebook and Twitter for a 45% increase over 2014.

# # #

Kentucky-Wisconsin Delivers Best Overnight Rating for National Semifinal in 22 Years as NCAA Tournament Continues Record-Setting Numbers

cbs-tnt-tbs-ncaaKentucky vs. Wisconsin Across TBS, TNT and truTV Garners Highest Overnight Rating for College Basketball Game in Cable Television History

NCAA Tournament to Date Nets Highest Overnight Rating in 23 Years

NCAA March Madness Live Nets Record 77 Million Live Streams Through Saturday

Turner Sports and CBS Sports’ exclusive coverage of last night’s NCAA Tournament National Semifinal between Kentucky and Wisconsin across TBS, TNT and truTV averaged a 13.3/24 overnight rating/share to deliver the highest rating for a college basketball game in the history of cable television and the highest rating for a Final Four game in 22 years (13.8/24 in 1993).  The networks’ collective coverage of Kentucky/Wisconsin peaked with a 16.4/30 overnight rating/share from 11-11:15 p.m. ET.  The game telecast is up 48% over last year, based on Nielsen metered market ratings.

The NCAA Final Four National Semifinals doubleheader – including Duke vs. Michigan State – averaged an 11.4/22 overnight rating/share to register as the highest average overnight rating for the doubleheader in 20 years (11.6/22 in 1995).  Last night’s National Semifinals are up 39% over last year.

The Duke/Michigan State telecast across TBS, TNT and truTV averaged a 9.6/20 overnight rating/share, the highest overnight rating in 10 years (10.3/19 in 2005) and a 30% increase over last year.

Overall, the NCAA Tournament coverage across TBS, CBS, TNT and truTV is averaging a 7.5/15 overnight rating/share, tied as the best overnight rating in 23 years (7.7/16 in 1992).

Additionally, NCAA March Madness Live has garnered more than 77 million live video streams and 16.8 million live hours of video consumption through Saturday’s National Semifinals, both all-time records.   This year’s live streams are up 15% over last year, with live hours of video consumed up 17%.  Yesterday, NCAA March Madness Live delivered a record-setting six million live video streams and 1.5 million live hours of consumption for the National Semifinals, up 59% and 53%, respectively.


The NCAA Tournament has grossed a record 306 million total social impressions across Facebook and Twitter through the second Thursday for a 36% increase over 2014.

Source: Nielsen Media Research, Arianna, Live +SD data stream. 3/17/15 – 4/4/15 vs. 3/18/15 – 4/5/15.   2014, 2013, 2012 and 2011 averages based on weighted average of 4 telecast gross across TBS, CBS, TNT and truTV. Historical audiences, CBS 1991 through 2005 based on Live data. Conviva, Adobe Analytics for digital metrics. Facebook Insights and Twitter for social analytics.


NASCAR Sprint Cup Race From Martinsville Sets FOX Sports 1 Audience Mark

fox-sports-1-logoStrong Viewership Also Reported for MLS, FOX SPORTS LIVE, JOCKEY CLUB TOUR


Charlotte, N.C. — College hoops isn’t the only sport to see sizable audiences last weekend.

On Sunday (3/29), FOX Sports televised its first ever regularly scheduled NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points race on FOX Sports 1, and the audience from Martinsville (VA) Speedway was record-setting.  Overcoming intense competition, the race attracted 4,061,000 viewers making it the most-watched motorsports event in network history, the fourth most-watched telecast ever on the network and the only non-MLB postseason event among the network’s top five.

According to Nielsen, the race propelled FOX Sports 1 to its most-watched Sunday from 6:00 AM-3:00 AM since launch, averaging 1,068,000 viewers over that span.  Moreover, FOX Sports 1 was the most-watched ad supported cable network from 1:00-5:15 PM ET on Sunday (4,089,000 viewers), posting a +170% advantage over the next closest network (Nickelodeon, 1,511,000 viewers).  The audience for the race peaked at 5,450,000 from 5:00-5:11 PM ET as Denny Hamlin held off a final-lap charge from Brad Keselowski to cop his first win of the season.

The audience for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race supplanted the previous FOX Sports 1 motorsports record of 3,526,000 set Feb. 15, 2014 for the SPRINT UNLIMITED.  The only other Sprint Cup points event on FOX Sports 1 was last season’s Bristol race on March 16 which was moved from FOX to FOX Sports 1 due to rain.  That race averaged 3,227,000 viewers.

Preceding the race, NASCAR RACEDAY posted 1,008,000 viewers, +52% above last year’s edition from Martinsville (661,000).  Immediately following the race, a special airing of FOX SPORTS LIVE posted 1,904,000 viewers marking the show’s seventh most-watched edition ever.

Later in the evening, Real Salt Lake’s 2-1 victory over Toronto in MLS action tallied 211,000 viewers, the largest audience for a FOX Sports 1 MLS match since opening weekend, and +50% above the comparable package’s 2014 season average (141,000).

Saturday (3/28) was a good day for racing of all kinds on FOX Sports 1.  The JOCKEY CLUB TOUR from Dubai delivered 291,000 viewers making it the second-most watched horse race in FOX Sports 1 history and more than doubled the average of the 12 previous races (120,000).  Later that day, the NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES race from Martinsville scored 1,100,000 viewers, +22% from the 2013 race on SPEED (902,000).  Last year’s race was rained out and moved to Sunday at 5:30pm and delivered 532,000 viewers.


No Foolin’, ESPN and ESPN2 Both up Double Digits for First Quarter

ESPN and ESPN2 were each up double digits in average 24-hour audience for the first quarter, which ended this past weekend, according to Nielsen. In addition, the total average audience of ESPN’s six measured networks (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNEWS, ESPNU, ESPN Classic, ESPN Deportes) was up nine percent.

ESPN was up 11 percent, averaging more than a million viewers at any time – 1,033,000, up from 931,000. The quarter got off to a tremendous start with the new College Football Playoff semifinals and championship drawing the three largest audiences in cable television history, topped by the 33,395,000 viewer average for the National Championship Game, won by Ohio State over Oregon. January was also boosted by the addition of an NFL wild card playoff game and the return of the NFL Pro Bowl.

ESPN2’s average audience was up 10 percent, at 282,000 viewers, up from 257,000. In addition to the network’s highest rating in history for the Outback Bowl on New Year’s Day (a 3.8 for Wisconsin’s overtime victory over Auburn), its weekday studio programming continued to perform strongly (Mike & Mike, First Take, His and Hers, and SportsNation) while the Australian Open and college basketball also contributed to the gains.

The total combined average audience for ESPN’s six measured networks was 1,468,000 people, an increase of nine percent over 2014 (1,346,000).


2015 NCAA Tournament Delivers Record-Setting Opening Week

cbs-tnt-tbs-ncaaNCAA Tournament Opening Week Generates Highest-Ever Overnight Television Ratings

NCAA March Madness Live Nets Record 54 Million Live Video Streams Through Sunday

The 2015 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship continues to generate record-setting consumption across all multimedia platforms.  CBS Sports and Turner Sports’ exclusive coverage of the NCAA Tournament across TBS, CBS, TNT and truTV is averaging a 6.7/14 overnight rating/share to register as the highest-ever rating for the event through the first Sunday (since the tournament expanded to its current television format in 1991). This year’s NCAA Tournament to date overnight rating (6.7/14) is up 6% compared to a 6.3/14 in 2014, based on Nielsen metered market ratings.

This weekend’s exclusive third round coverage delivered a 7.3/16 overnight rating/share, the highest rating for the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament in 22 years and a 7% increase over last year.

NCAA March Madness Live has also generated a record-setting 54 million live video streams through Sunday, a 7% increase over last year.  Additionally, NCAA March Madness Live has netted more than 11 million live hours of video consumption through the first week of the tournament, up 8% through the same period a year ago.

The NCAA Tournament has also grossed a record 108 million total social impressions across Facebook and Twitter through Sunday for a 40% increase over 2014.

Source: Nielsen Media Research, Arianna, Live +SD data stream. 3/17/15 – 3/22/15 vs. 3/18/15 – 3/23/15.   2014, 2013, 2012 and 2011 averages based on weighted average of 4 telecast gross across CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV. Historical audiences, CBS 1991 through 2005 based on Live data. Conviva, Adobe Analytics for digital metrics. Facebook Insights and Twitter for social analytics.


Men’s College Basketball: ESPN’s 36th Season is its Second Most-Viewed


  • 1,714 Exclusive Games across Television and Digital Platforms
  • ESPN and ESPN2 Televise Season’s Five Most-Viewed Games across All Networks
  • ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU’s 622 Games Average 475,000 Viewers; WatchESPN Generates 607,000,000 Live Minutes Viewed
  • Louisville Makes it a Baker’s Dozen with Metered Market Record

ESPN’s 36th consecutive year of men’s regular-season college basketball averaged 1,376,000 viewers, the network’s second most-viewed season on record and only 78,000 viewers fewer than the previous high set last year. ESPN also set an industry-record for exclusive games, carrying 1,714 men’s contests across ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN3, ESPNEWS, SEC Network, SEC Network+ and Longhorn Network. Highlights:

Five Most-Viewed Games of Season and an ESPN2 Record

ESPN and ESPN2 combined to televise the five most-viewed games this season on any network and were the only networks with telecasts that averaged more than three million viewers. ESPN’s two Duke vs. North Carolina contests took the top two spots with the March 7 game averaging 4,241,000 viewers and the February 18 telecast averaging 4,136,000 viewers.

In addition to being the season’s third most-viewed game, ESPN2’s 3,495,000 viewers for Kentucky at Louisville on December 27 is also the network’s most-viewed men’s college hoops game ever. The remaining top five were on ESPN: Duke at Virginia on January 31 averaged 3,489,000 viewers and Kentucky at Florida on February 7 averaged 3,267,000 viewers.

669 Television Games Averages 448,000 Viewers

An extensive schedule of 669 exclusive games on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPNEWS – at least one telecast on all but nine days from November 14 to March 8 – averaged 448,000 viewers. Overall, the four networks combined to reach 114,932,000 viewers.

Audience Records for WatchESPN

The 1,714 games on WatchESPN – every exclusive contest on an ESPN television and digital platform – generated 607,000,000 minutes viewed, up 56 percent over 2013-14. Overall, 2014-15 produced WatchESPN’s four most-viewed regular-season men’s college basketball games ever: North Carolina at Duke on February 18 (219,000 unique viewers), Kentucky at Georgia on March 3 (168,000), Kentucky at Louisville on December 27 (158,000) and Duke at North Carolina on March 7 (150,000).

Louisville’s 13th Year as Top Market Sets Record for Highest Season Average of Any Market

ESPN telecasts in Louisville averaged a metered market-leading 5.9 rating, its 13th straight year at the top and the largest regular-season average for the sport on ESPN in any market on record. Greensboro, with a 3.0 average rating, ended the season with the second highest rating for the fourth consecutive year. Raleigh-Durham (2.7) and Kansas City (2.4) – which were tied for second last season — were the third and fourth top markets, respectively this year. The remaining top 10: Columbus (2.1), Cincinnati (1.9), Dayton (1.9), Indianapolis (1.8), Charlotte (1.8) and Memphis (1.8).


DAYTONA 500 Bounces Back & Daytona Speedweeks Viewership Up On FOX Sports 1

fox-sports-1-logoFirst 2015 NASCAR XFINITY Series Race on FOX Sports 1

Enjoys Viewership Bump

Daytona 500 Scores Major Growth on FOX Sports GO; Consumption of NASCAR Content on FOXSports.com up 63% Year-to-Year

After suffering through a daylong weather delay in 2014, the DAYTONA 500 began working its way back last weekend, scoring 13.4 million viewers on FOX, a +44% increase over last year’s 9.3 million. A total of 23.5 million viewers watched all or part of Sunday’s telecast. Additionally, 11 days of Speedweeks programming on FOX Sports 1 enjoyed a 14% increase in average viewership (293,000 vs. 257,000).

NASCAR shoulder programming surrounding the DAYTONA 500 was strong overall on Sunday, Feb. 22, as NASCAR RACEDAY averaged 973,000 viewers on FOX Sports 1, a 31% increase over last year’s 742,000 for a one-hour edition of the show.  NASCAR VICTORY LANE posted 464,000 viewers, up 21% over the last post-Daytona run in 2013 (383,000). The week leading up to the Daytona 500 was the third most-watched in FOX Sports 1 history and the highest since last season’s National League Championship Series.

FOX kicked off the 2015 NASCAR SPRINT CUP season Saturday, Feb. 14 with the SPRINT UNLIMITED averaging 5.6 million viewers, a 60% increase over 2014 (3.5 million) when it aired on FOX Sports 1. The race powered FOX to a first-place finish in prime time among broadcast networks across all key male and adult demos including A18-49 and A18-34.

A variety of sports programming led FOX Sports 1 to its eighth most-watched Saturday since launch, averaging 490,000 viewers on Saturday, Feb. 14. Motor sports programming started at 10:30 AM ET with a NASCAR SPRINT CUP PRACTICE from Daytona drawing 698,000 viewers, up 27% from the equivalent practice last year (551,000).  Saturday afternoon’s ARCA RACING SERIES race from Daytona was the most-watched program of the day on FOX Sports 1 with 919,000 viewers.

DAYTONA POLE DAY QUALIFYING, airing Sunday, Feb. 15 on FOX, averaged 3.4 million viewers, up 17% from 2014. The first ever “group qualifying” format at Daytona is the highest rated and most watched session since 2009, with Jeff Gordon scoring the pole for his final race at Daytona International Speedway. The four-time champion announced he will be retiring at the end of the 2014 season.

The 2015 BUDWEISER DUEL AT DAYTONA scored 3,018,000 viewers on FOX Sports 1, a slight dip from last year’s 3,122,000 prime time debut, but strong enough to be No. 1 in ad-supported cable from 7:00-10:30 PM ET in total viewers and Adults 18-49 on Thursday, Feb. 19. Earlier in the day, a slate of Daytona practices (Sprint Cup Final, NCWTS and NCWTS Final) averaged 244,000 viewers, a 16% increase in viewership (vs. 210,000) compared to the same three Thursday practice sessions last year.


On Friday, Feb. 20, the NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES RACE from Daytona garnered 1,550,000 viewers, a 3% increase from last year’s 1,502,000 viewers.  Earlier in the day, NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES QUALIFYING posted a 15% gain over 2013 (472,000 vs. 409,000).

The first 2015 NASCAR XFINITY SERIES race under the new television deal on FOX Sports 1 delivered 2,944,000 viewers on Saturday, Feb. 21, an 8% increase over last year’s race on ESPN and good for the most-watched sports event on ad-supported cable on the weekend. The race, with 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick serving as an analyst for the first time, was the 13th most-watched telecast in FOX Sports 1 history. Following the race, FOX SPORTS LIVE averaged 2,485,000 viewers, making it the second most-watched edition of FOX SPORTS LIVE ever and most-watched with a duration greater than 30 minutes.

This year’s Daytona 500 was the most-watched NASCAR event ever on FOX SPORTS GO, posting a 220% increase in unique visitors over last year’s race.  In addition, mobile consumption of NASCAR content on FOXSPORTS.COM was up 63% year-to-year.

According to Nielsen’s SocialGuide, the Daytona 500 accounted for 297,300 Total Tweets from 10:00 AM ET to 8:00 PM ET, with 113,600 Unique Authors, a Unique Audience of 5.8 million and 50.6 million Impressions.


NFL 2014 TV Recap: 202 Million Fans Tuned In; NFL Game Viewership Nearly Triples Broadcast Primetime; 45 Of 50 Most-Watched Shows This Fall

nfl-logoNFL 2014 TV RECAP






The 2014 NFL season had it all. Close games, come-from-behind victories and record-breaking performances had fans tuning into NFL games.  According to The Nielsen Company, the 2014 regular season reached 202.3 million unique viewers, representing 80 percent of all television homes and 68% percent of potential viewers in the U.S.

The 2014 NFL Regular Season averaged 17.6 million viewers per game telecast, making it the second most-watched season ever behind the 2010 season (17.9 million).

NFL games accounted for the top 20, and 45 of the 50 most-watched TV shows among all programming last fall (chart below).

Five NFL game telecasts this season were watched by at least 29 million viewers, up from just one in the 2013 season.

For the third consecutive year, an NFL game was the week’s most-watched TV show in all 17 weeks of the season. In addition, at least two NFL games were the week’s most-watched TV shows in 16 weeks of the season (chart below).

NFL games on broadcast television nearly tripled broadcast primetime viewership. NFL games on CBS, FOX and NBC averaged 19.2 million viewers – 162% percent higher than the average primetime viewership among the four major over-the-air networks (7.4 million average on ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC).

Over the past decade, average viewership of NFL games on broadcast television has increased 25% from 15.4 million in 2004 to 19.2 million in 2014.

More 2014 NFL TV highlights:

  • NBC’s Sunday Night Football ranked as the most-watched primetime program for the fifth consecutive fall season averaging 21.3 million viewers. The Week 15 SNF game (Cowboys-Eagles) was the most-watched primetime game of the season with an average of 24.3 million viewers.
  • In its first year simulcast on CBS and NFL Network, Thursday Night Football saw huge gains, with total viewership up 53% from last season and 69% since 2012.
  • FOX’s Thanksgiving Day Game (Eagles-Cowboys) was the most-watched show of the fall season with 32.0 million viewers, and the 2014 Thanksgiving Day average of 28.4 million viewers was the highest Thanksgiving Day average since 1998 (29.7 million for Steelers-Lions and Vikings-Cowboys).
  • The Week 8 Redskins-Cowboys game on ESPN averaged 18.8 million viewers, making it the most-watched Monday Night Football game since 2010 and the fourth most-watched Monday Night Football game on ESPN of all time.
  • NFL games accounted for the top 38 and 48 of the 50 most-watched telecasts (since Sept. 4) among adults aged 18-49 – with CBS, FOX, ESPN and NBC each represented on that list.

NFL game telecasts topped weekly TV viewership charts in each of the season’s 17 weeks:

# of NFL telecasts that were most-watched shows each week: Number of weeks:
1 1
2 6
3 3
4 5
At least 5 2

For the season, NFL games rank as the 20 most-watched and 45 of the top 50 TV shows since Labor Day. Following are the most-watched programs this fall:


Program Viewers
1.     FOX Thanksgiving Day (Eagles-Cowboys), 11/27 32.0 million
2.     CBS Sunday National (mostly Patriots-Packers), 11/30 30.9 million
3.     FOX Sunday National (mostly Cowboys-Seahawks), 10/12 30.0 million
4.     CBS Thanksgiving Day (Bears-Lions), 11/27 29.4 million
5.     CBS Sunday National (mostly Broncos-Patriots), 11/2 29.1 million
6.     FOX Sunday National (mostly Lions-Packers), 12/28 28.5 million
7.     FOX Sunday National (mostly 49ers-Cowboys), 9/7 28.1 million
8.     CBS Sunday National (mostly Broncos-Seahawks), 9/21 27.3 million
9.     NBC Thursday Night Kickoff Game (Packers-Seahawks), 9/4 27.1 million
10.  FOX Sunday National (mostly Giants-Cowboys), 10/19 27.0 million
11.  FOX Sunday National (mostly Eagles-Packers), 11/16 26.5 million
12.  FOX Sunday National (mostly 49ers-Seahawks), 12/14 26.5 million
13.  CBS Sunday National (mostly Dolphins at Broncos), 11/23 26.4 million
14.  FOX Sunday National (mostly Eagles-Seahawks), 12/7 25.9 million
15.  CBS Sunday National (mostly Colts-Cowboys), 12/21 25.9 million
16.  FOX Sunday National (mostly Eagles-49ers), 9/28 25.9 million
17.  CBS Sunday National (mostly Chiefs-Broncos), 9/14 25.0 million
18.  NBC Sunday Night Football (Cowboys-Eagles), 12/14 24.3 million
19.  NBC Sunday Night Football (Colts-Broncos), 9/7          23.8 million
20.  NBC Sunday Night Football (49ers-Broncos), 10/19 23.8 million
21.  FOX MLB World Series Game 7 23.5 million
22.  NBC Sunday Night Football (Saints-Cowboys), 9/28 23.1 million
23.  NBC Thanksgiving Night (Seahawks-49ers), 11/27 22.9 million
24.  FOX Sunday National (mostly Giants-Seahawks), 11/9 22.7 million
25.  NBC Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, 11/27 22.6 million
26.  NBC Sunday Night Football (Cowboys-Giants), 11/23 22.4 million
27.  FOX Sunday Single (mostly Cardinals-Cowboys), 11/2 22.3 million
28.  NBC Sunday Night Football (Bears-49ers), 9/14 22.3 million
29.  NBC Sunday Night Football (Patriots-Chargers), 12/7 21.1 million
30.  NBC Sunday Night Football (Broncos-Chiefs), 11/30 21.1 million
31.  NBC Sunday Night Football (Patriots-Colts), 11/16 20.8 million
32.  CBS & NFLN Thursday Night Football (Steelers-Ravens), 9/11 20.8 million
33.  CBS Sunday National (Mostly Colts-Steelers), 10/26 20.8 million
34.  NBC Sunday Night Football (Bengals-Steelers), 12/28 20.7 million
35.  FOX Sunday Single (Mostly Lions-Patriots), 11/23 20.7 million
36.  FOX Sunday Single (mostly Packers-Lions & 49ers-Cardinals), 9/21 20.6 million
37.  CBS & NFLN Thursday Night Football (Chargers-Broncos), 10/23 20.2 million
38.  NBC Sunday Night Football (Steelers- Panthers), 9/21 19.8 million
39.  CBS Sunday National (mostly Chiefs-49ers), 10/5 19.7 million
40.  NBC Sunday Night Football (Bengals-Patriots), 10/5 19.5 million
41.  FOX Sunday Single (mostly Seahawks-Chargers & Cowboys-Titans), 9/14 19.4 million
42.  FOX Sunday Single (mostly Cardinals-Broncos & Falcons-Giants), 10/5 19.4 million
43.  NBC Sunday Night Football (Seahawks-Cardinals), 12/21 19.3 million
44.  NCIS, 9/30 19.0 million
45.  NBC Sunday Night Football (Saints-Packers), 10/26 18.8 million
46.  ESPN Monday Night Football (Redskins-Cowboys), 10/27 18.8 million
47.  CBS Sunday Single (mostly Dolphins-Patriots, Steelers-Falcons), 12/14 18.7 million
48.  NBC Sunday Night Football (Ravens-Steelers), 11/2 18.6 million
49.  60 Minutes, 11/30 18.4 million
50.  NCIS, 9/23 18.3 million

Source: NFL & The Nielsen Company

# # #

Cardinals-Panthers Wild Card Game is ESPN’s Third Highest-Rated NFL Game Ever

espn-nfl-liveEighth Most-Watched Telecast among Viewers, and Ninth Highest-Rated, in Cable TV History

The Saturday afternoon NFL Wild Card game on ESPN – a Carolina Panthers’ 27-16 victory over the Arizona Cardinals – ranks as the network’s third highest-rated NFL game ever. It is also the eighth most-viewed telecast among viewers (see chart below), and ninth highest-rated, in cable television history.

The Cardinals-Panthers game – the first NFL Playoff game in ESPN’s 35-year history – averaged a 12.5 household US rating; 14,551,000 households; and 21,678,000 viewers (P2+), according to Nielsen fast nationals. The rating peaked from 5:45-6 p.m. ET with a 13.9 rating and at 24,300,000 viewers from 7-7:15 p.m.

The only NFL games on ESPN to rate higher were Monday Night Football contests – Minnesota-Green Bay (13.2 household rating, 10/5/09) and New Orleans-New England (12.9 rating, 11/30/09).

The Wild Card continued one of ESPN’s most successful weeks in history following record-setting audiences on New Year’s Day for the two inaugural College Football Playoff Semifinal games. In the week ahead, ESPN will continue its presentation of marquee football telecasts with the much-anticipated Oregon-Ohio State College Football Playoff National Championship on Monday, January 12.

In Phoenix, the game delivered a 21.6 rating on ESPN and a 7.3 on KASW-CW, for a combined 28.9 rating in the market. In Charlotte, the game delivered a 20.4 rating on ESPN and a 16.3 on WJZY-FOX, for a combined 36.6 rating in the market.

The top 10 metered markets (in addition to those of the competing teams) included: Greensboro (25.8), Las Vegas (19.6), Raleigh-Durham (19.5), Greenville (19.5), Denver (18.5), Seattle (18.3), Richmond (16.9), Baltimore (16.8), Norfolk (16.5) and New Orleans (16.5). Five markets recorded the highest-rated NFL game rating ever on ESPN: Charlotte, Detroit (13.8), Greensboro, Raleigh, and Salt Lake City (11.3).

ESPN’s 17 Monday Night Football telecasts in 2014 averaged an 8.3 US household rating; 9,636,000 households; and 13,349,000 viewers. Release.

Top 10 Most-Viewed Programs in Cable Television History (Viewers):

Rank Date Program Network Viewers (000s)
1. 01/01/2015 CFB/Sugar Bowl: Alabama-Ohio St. ^ ESPN 28,271
2. 01/01/2015 CFB/Rose Bowl: Oregon-Florida St. ^ ESPN 28,164
3. 01/10/2011 CFB/BCS Champ: Oregon-Auburn ESPN 27,316
4. 01/07/2013 CFB/BCS Champ: Alabama-Notre Dame ESPN 26,380
5. 01/06/2014 CFB/BCS Champ: Florida St.-Auburn ESPN 25,572
6. 01/09/2012 CFB/BCS Champ: Alabama-LSU ESPN 24,214
7. 10/05/2009 NFL MNF: Green Bay-Minnesota ESPN 21,839
8. 01/03/2015 NFL Wild Card: Arizona-Carolina ESPN 21,678
9. 11/30/2009 NFL MNF: New England-New Orleans ESPN 21,402
10. 01/01/2011 CFB/Rose Bowl: TCU-Wisconsin ESPN 20,558

Note: excluding breaking news; live + same day

^ Inaugural College Football Playoff semifinal games

2015 games in bold

ESPN Digital: WatchESPN Posts Second-Highest Audience Ever for an NFL Game

The Arizona-Carolina Wild Card game had a WatchESPN average minute audience of 144,000, the second highest audience ever for an NFL game, behind only the Washington-Dallas game on Oct. 27 (145,000), The game also logged 378,000 unique viewers and 30.8 million total minutes viewed.

The average MNF game this season had a WatchESPN average minute audience of 106,000, 331,000 unique viewers and 21.6 million total minutes viewed – up 64 percent, 81 percent and 68 percent, respectively, compared to the previous season.

ESPN’s MNF Crew to Call NFL Pro Bowl in Arizona to Kickoff Super Bowl XLIX, Jan. 25

ESPN’s Monday Night Football team will conclude its 2014 NFL season on Sunday, January 25 (8 p.m. ET, ESPN) with the NFL Pro Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, to kickoff Super Bowl XLIX week.