Ratings Roundup: Women’s Tourney, Championship a Slam Dunk for ESPN; Yankees-Mets Draw Spring Training Record

ESPN’s telecast of the 2012 NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship on Tuesday averaged a 3.2 rating, 3.14 million households, and 4.24 million viewers. The game stands as the network’s highest-rated and most-viewed NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship since 2004 (4.3 rating, 3.80 million households, and 5.58 million viewers). The telecast was up 14% (vs. 2.8), 12% (vs. 2.80 million) and 11% (vs. 3.83 million), respectively, over last year.

In addition to the title game, ESPN’s three-game Final Four coverage was the network’s most-viewed Final Four average since 2004. The telecasts averaged a 2.6 rating, 2.60 million households and 3.64 million viewers, up 8% (vs. 2.4), 9% (vs. 2.38 million), and 13% (vs. 3.22 million), respectively, over 2011.

Overall, the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship was ESPN’s second most-viewed ever behind last year’s record-setting tournament. ESPN finished with an average of 1.84 million viewers and 1.37 million households based on a 1.4 rating, even with last season in rating and down 2% in viewers (1.88 million) and households (1.45 million), respectively….

…Yesterday’s Mets-Yankees telecast on YES was the highest-rated and most-watched weekday daytime Spring Training game ever on a New York RSN (1.29 average TV HH rating/95,000 average TV HHs).  The previous high was YES’ March 3, 2009 telecast of the Yankees vs. Team USA (from the World Baseball Championships), which did a 1.24 average TV HH rating/92,000 average TV HHs…

…ESPN scored big on Wednesday night thanks to the convergence of MLB Opening Night and a high-profiel NBA doubleheader across ESPN2 and ESPN. ESPN’s telecast of the St. Louis Cardinals at the new-look Miami Marlins averaged a 1.8 household rating and 2.42 million viewers (P2+), even in rating and up 4% in viewers over last year (San Francisco – Los Angeles Dodgers). The MLB opener’s 5.4 overnight rating was the highest ever for an ESPN MLB telecast in Miami (5.4) and the highest in St Louis in five years. The NBA game that followed – between the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers – drew a strong 1.9 rating and 2.42 million viewers, outperforming the network’s season average NBA audience by 27% (1.5 season to date).

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 2.98 million viewers…

…Sunday’s NHL on NBC game posted a 1.0/2 with 1.4 million viewers for the game between the Flyers and Penguins. That score is up 43% over last year and ranks as NBC’s highest-rated single NHL telecast since the Winter Classic on January 2. Later in the day, Rangers/Bruins drew 664,000 viewers on NBC Sports Network, the sixth-largest audience for a regular season game on the network…

…Sunday’s games for the NBA on ABC continued the channel’s ratings upswing, with the early game between the Chicago Bulls and Oklahoma City Thunder earning a 1.9/5 with 2.9 million viewers, according to Nielsen. That’s up 46% over last year. Among Men 18-34, the game spiked 150% with a 2.0 vs. 0.8. That late game between the Heat and Celtics averaged a 2.7/6  with 4.2 million viewers for growth of 8% year-to-year.

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