Ratings Roundup: MLB, NFL Networks Report Significant Gains; MNF, SNF Heading in Opposite Directions

Two burgeoning league-run networks are on the rise, as both NFL Network and MLB Network have reported sizeable recent ratings increases.

NFL Network drew a record total of 29.8 million fans over the last month (Aug. 29-Sept. 25), a 10% increase from 2010. NFL Network’s primetime lineup averaged a record 314,000 viewers, up 27% jump from last year, while its Sunday NFL GameDay coverage averaged 282,000 viewers – up 11%.

MLB Network scored the channel’s best ratings for a single quarter ever for the third quarter of this year, boasting 42% growth in average viewers in total day as well as 31% growth in average viewers and 33% growth in the A18-49 demo in primetime. The network’s studio show MLB Tonight saw a spike of 44% during that same period…

…Meanwhile the NFL’s primary two primetime packages are drifting in opposite directions, as ESPN’s Monday Night Football is trending down and NBC’s Sunday Night Football is up through three weeks.

So far this season, ESPN is averaging an 8.7 U.S. rating and 13.731 million viewers for Monday Night Football, down 7% in ratings and 8% in viewership from the comparable point last year (9.4, 14.979M). This is the lowest average for Monday Night Football through Week 3 of the season since 2008 (8.3, 13.322M). Monday’s Redskins-Cowboys game earned a 10.6 U.S. rating and 17.104 million viewers on ESPN, down 2% in ratings and viewership from last year (GB/CHI: 10.8, 17.454M).

So far this season, NBC’s Sunday Night Football is averaging a 14.5 rating and 24.2 million viewers for NFL coverage, up 4% in ratings and viewership from last year (14.0, 23.3M). Sunday’s Steelers/Colts game earned a 12.2 final rating and 20.357 million viewers on NBC, up 8% in ratings and 12% in viewership from last year (NYJ/MIA: 11.3, 18.147M)…

…Last Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Sylvania 300 from New Hampshire earned a 2.7 U.S. rating and 4.235 million viewers on ESPN, up 17% in ratings and 15% in viewership from last year (2.3, 3.677M). Despite the increase, this marks the second-lowest rated, second-least viewed edition of the race over the past ten seasons…

…Golf Channel’s 11-plus hours of live coverage of Sunday’s Solheim Cup finale from Ireland earned the network a 35% viewership increase over the 2007 matches, the last time the biennial competition was played on European soil. Ratings peaked in the final hour (12:15-1:15 p.m. ET) at 0.7/684,000 opposite NFL pre-game shows and kickoffs on other networks. Sunday’s singles matches were watched by an average of 318,000 viewers, compared to 235,000 in 2007 when the matches were played in Sweden. The entire telecast’s 0.3 household rating was equal to 2007.

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