ESPN’s New Year’s Day Audience Grows 49% over 2010
Digital Platforms Ride BCS to Strong Growth
On the strength of college bowl games – in particular the Bowl Championship series contests new to ESPN in 2011 – on January 1 the network posted the highest-rated and most-viewed day in its 31-plus year history and the week (Dec. 27 – Jan. 2) was its highest-rated and most-watched, according to Nielsen.
On New Year’s Day, ESPN averaged a 4.3 rating (6,301,000 viewers, P2+; 4,259,000 homes), shattering its old record set September 14, 2009 (3.4 rating; 4,456,000 viewers; 3,396,000 homes), a day bolstered by the NFL opening week Monday Night Football doubleheader. The new record was powered by the Rose Bowl Game Presented by Vizio between TCU and Wisconsin earning a 13.1 rating and drawing the largest audience in cable television history (excluding NFL games) with an average of 20.6 million viewers and 13.1 million households. That evening, the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (Oklahoma vs. Connecticut) won the night among all networks with a 7.1 rating (10.8 million viewers, 7.1 million households).
For the Nielsen week of December 27, 2010 – January 2, 2011, ESPN averaged a 2.2 rating, representing 2,953,000 viewers and 2,148,000 homes. The network’s previous best week was the same week a year earlier – December 28, 2009 – January 3, 2010 – but with far lower numbers. A year ago, ESPN averaged a 1.7 rating (2,274,000 viewers; 1,708,000 homes).
The record week, in addition to the New Year’s Day bowl games, was highlighted by:
- the 2010 season’s most-watched Monday Night Football game (New Orleans at Atlanta, 19.1 million viewers and 13.0 million homes, based on a 13.0 rating),
- the Chick-Fil-A Bowl (Florida State vs. South Carolina) on December 31 (5.0 rating),
- the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl (North Carolina vs. Tennessee) on December 30 (4.9 rating),
- the Capital One Bowl (Alabama vs. Michigan State) on January 1 (4.3 rating),
- and the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl (Washington vs. Nebraska) on December 30 (4.0 rating).
- ESPN’s “reach” (unduplicated viewers) on January 1, 2011, was 63,535,000 viewers, an increase of 49% from New Year’s Day 2010 (42,747,000).
- ESPN’s four BCS games to date (Rose, Fiesta, Discover Orange and Allstate Sugar) have averaged 13,813,000 viewers each – higher than the season-to-date prime-time average for the four major broadcast networks.
- As a series, the four games would rank #13 among the 111 prime-time series.
Digital Success for BCS
On January 1, ESPN.com registered 12.5 million visits, 35 page views and 59.2 million minutes for college football content, up, 17 percent, 24 percent and 31%, respectively from a year ago. ESPN Mobile Web saw 8.8 million visits, 18.5 million page views and 35.3 million total minutes, up 49 percent, 41 percent and 42 percent, respectively.
ESPN3.com has posted three of its four most popular college football games with the BCS. The Sugar Bowl brought in 248,000 unique viewers to take the top spot. The Rose Bowl registered 214,000 viewers (third place) and the Orange Bowl ranks fourth with 182,000.