Staged for First Time on Common Day During Conference Play – Challenge Sees Significant Viewership Increases
The Kentucky at Kansas game on ESPN – as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge presented by Sonic on Saturday, Jan. 30 – generated 2,984,000 viewers, marking the all-time most viewed matchup in the third annual event. The 90-84 overtime game that saw Kansas top Kentucky was up 40 percent in viewership vs. the event’s previous best, last season’s Texas- Kentucky matchup (2,127,000 viewers) on December 5, 2014.
Louisville gathered the highest-rated market for the Kentucky-Kansas matchup, bringing in a 19.9 overnight rating, followed by Kansas City (10.1); Knoxville (6.8); Cincinnati (6.1) and Nashville (4.9).
Across all ESPN networks, viewership for the Big 12/SEC Challenge is up 46 percent vs. the 2014 Challenge (846,000 vs. 579,000 viewers) and up 61 percent vs. the 2013 event (846,000 vs. 525,000 viewers). The 2015 event marks the first time the games were staged on a common-bye date during the conference season, matching all 10 of the Big 12 members against 10 teams from the Southeastern Conference. All the games aired across ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU.
For the third straight season, the Big 12 won the Big 12/SEC Challenge, capturing seven of 10 matchups in 2016. In 2014, the Big 12 won six of 10 matchups and in 2013, posted a 7-3 mark.
* – note this year’s event had two additional games on ESPN vs. previous Challenges