Ratings Roundup: ESPN Sees Big Viewership for NBA, College Hoops

ESPN recorded the most-watched men’s college basketball season in network history, highlighted by the Duke-UNC matchup on March 3, which was highest-rated game of the season for ESPN and highest-rated since 2008. The game earned a 2.7 U.S. rating and 4.247 million viewers on ESPN, ranked as the fourth-most viewed men’s college basketball game on ESPN since at least 1990.

After 130 regular-season games in 2011-12, ESPN posted a 1.1 rating, up 10% from last season’s 1.0. Also, ESPN ended the season averaging 1.061 million households, up 1% from 2010-11. In addition, ESPN2’s 184-game slate finished up 33% (.4 vs. .3). ESPN’s top meterted markets were Louisville (4.5), Greensboro-High Point (3.5), Kansas City (2.8), Columbus (2.7) and Raleigh-Durham (2.7).

On the ESPN Digital side, college basketball regular season games on ESPN3 and WatchESPN across all devices logged 455.9 million minutes, up 56% compared to ESPN3 on computers the previous season. The Duke-UNC matchup on Feb. 8 was the most watched college basketball game ever on ESPN3.com with 4.4 million minutes generated across all devices. In addition, college basketball content across ESPN.com, the ESPN mobile Web and ScoreCenter delivered 1.6 billion total minutes and 283 million visits, up 16% and 5%, respectively…

…As for the pro game, ESPN has seen a 14% ratings increase through 36 NBA telecasts, averaging a 1.6 rating compared to a 1.4 last season. Viewership is up 6% percent (1.98 million vs 1.86 million) and household impressions are up 10% (1.54 million vs. 1.4 million).

Additionally, ABC’s NBA broadcasts are averaging a 3.9 rating through eight games, up 11%, compared to a 3.5 last season. ABC’s viewership is up 9% (6.64 million vs. 6.09 million) and household impressions are up 1o% (4.51 million vs. 4.11 million). This boost on March 4, when ABC’s broadcast of the Heat-Lakers averaged 7.04 million viewers – the network’s largest audience for a non-Christmas Day regular-season game ever.

On the digital side, through Feb. 26, ESPN.com’s NBA section logged 1.8 million average daily unique visitors, up 34% from this point last year. The Fantasy Basketball section also averaged 469,000 daily unique visitors, up 223%. ESPN’s mobile Web NBA section has drawn an average minute audience of 9,000 visitors, an increase of 105%. It has also averaged 1.4 million daily unique visitors and 13.1 million minutes per day, up 78% and 105%, respectively…

…Through 27 telecasts, TNT has averaged a 1.8 U.S. rating and 2.729 million viewers for coverage of the 2011-12 NBA regular season, up 20% in ratings and 14% in viewership from last year’s season-to-date average (1.5, 2.389M, 42 games), and up 50% and 47%, respectively, from the season-to-date average two years ago (1.2, 1.852M, 41 games)…

…For the second consecutive year more than 6.5 million viewers tuned in to NFL Network’s exclusive coverage of the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine. The 6.51 million viewers is down slightly from the 6.55 million that tuned in last year but up significantly from 2010 (5.2 million viewer). Sunday’s seven hours of live coverage featuring quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers was the most-watched Combine telecast of all-time with an average of 450,000 viewers up 11% from last year (406,000) and up 62% from 2010 (277,000).

The audience on the NFL’s digital media properties including NFL.com, NFL Mobile and other mobile outlets jumped 37% for full Combine coverage with unique users from Sunday’s workout coverage spiking 39%.

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