Last night’s convergence of the Opening Night of Major League Baseball on ESPN and a key NBA doubleheader across ESPN2 and ESPN led to a big night on ESPN’s television and digital platforms. The highlights include:
- the highest rated NBA game ever on ESPN2 boosting the network to winning the night among networks, cable or broadcast, among M18-34
- ESPN’s highest-rated MLB game ever in Miami, with national audience up four percent vs. last year
- and the highest rated market for MLB’s Opening Night in five years, a 15.9 in St. Louis.
The baseball game on ESPN — the St. Louis Cardinals visiting the new-look Miami Marlins – averaged 2,416,000 viewers (P2+), an increase of four percent compared to last year’s Opening Night (San Francisco – Los Angeles Dodgers). Both games drew a 1.8 household rating. The NBA game that followed – a battle of the Staples Center, Los Angeles Lakers vs. Los Angeles Clippers – drew a strong 1.9 rating; outperforming the network’s season average for NBA games by 27% (1.5 season to date). The telecast average 2,421,000 viewers.
On ESPN2, the early evening NBA contest with the league-leading Oklahoma City Thunder visiting the Miami Heat, delivered a 2.3 rating, the network’s best rating for any programming in 2012. Since the start of 2010, only one weeknight prime-time telecast has done better on ESPN2 (NFL Draft, April 23, 2010, 2.6). It also is the best NBA rating ever on ESPN2, regular season or playoffs (54 games since 2002, previous record: Sacramento at Dallas Western Conference Semifinals Game 1 on May 6, 2003, 1.7 rating). The game averaged 2,977,000 viewers. All ratings are according to Nielsen.
Based on the overnight ratings of metered markets:
- The MLB Opener – the first game in Marlins Park, won by the defending World Series Champion Cardinals 4-1 over Miami – registered a 5.4 rating in Miami, the highest ever for a regular-season ESPN MLB telecast in the market, and the second-highest for the game nationally.
- In St. Louis, the baseball game’s 15.9 overnight rating was the highest for any metered market for an Opening Night telecast on ESPN or ESPN2 in the past five years (St. Louis garnered a 17.6 in 2007 for the Mets/Cardinals).
- The Oklahoma City/Miami NBA game on ESPN2 earned 5.9 in Oklahoma City, the third highest ever in that market for an NBA game on ESPN or ESPN2 (8.3 for Orlando/Oklahoma City on Christmas 2011, 8.0 for Miami/Oklahoma City on March 25, 2012).
ESPN’s Digital Platforms
Wednesday’s Oklahoma City/Miami Heat game on ESPN3 and WatchESPN across all platforms – computer, smartphone, tablet and Xbox – generated 6.1 million minutes, second only this NBA season to the Lakers vs. Knicks game February 10. It was also the second best game of the season on computers in terms of unique viewers and minutes.