Ratings Roundup: Big Crowds for NBA Conference Finals on ESPN, TNT; NBC Sees Uptick for Stanley Cup Conference Finals

The 2015 NBA Western Conference Finals Game 2 – the Golden State Warriors defeated the Houston Rockets to take a 2-0 series lead in another thrilling game – delivered a 5.6 overnight rating. The game peaked with a 7.2 from 11:30 p.m.-11:45 p.m. ET. This is up 47% from the last time ESPN televised the Western Conference Finals – San Antonio/Memphis Game 2 in 2013 – which delivered a 3.8 overnight rating. Thursday’s Game 2 is also up 27% from the 2014 Western Conference Finals Game 2 – San Antonio/Oklahoma City Thunder – which delivered a 4.4 overnight rating. In both the San Francisco and Houston markets, the telecast generated a 15.9 rating. In San Francisco, this is the second-highest rated NBA game (non-Finals) ever in the market. In Houston, it ranks fifth all-time among highest-rated NBA games (non-Finals) in the market. Golden State-Houston Game 2 generated an average minute audience of 127,161, which makes it the fourth-best ever for an NBA game on WatchESPN.

Prior to that Game 1 of the series delivered 6,848,000 average viewers (p2+), up 41% from the last time ESPN presented the Western Conference Finals – San Antonio/Memphis in 2013 – which generated 4,854,000 viewers on ABC. Moreover, Game 1 was up eight percent from 6,363,000 viewers for San Antonio/Oklahoma City in 2014. Game 1 was also the highest-rated telecast of the night for all of television (broadcast and cable) across key demos: M18-34, M18-49, M25-54, P18-34 and P18-49. The game delivered a 4.4 U.S. household rating, up 42 percent from a 3.1 in 2013 and up 10 percent from a 4.0 in 2014.

That same night, the 2015 NBA Draft Lottery telecast was the most-watched and highest-rated ever on ESPN. The telecast generated 3,550,000 viewers and a 2.4 U.S. household rating, up 6% and 4%, respectively, from 2014.

…On the Eastern Conference Finals side, TNT’s Game 1 coverage of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday delivered the top two highest-rated programs of the night across all of cable television. The Cavaliers vs. Hawks live game telecast averaged a 4.4 U.S. HH rating and 6.8 million total viewers, up 10% and 8% respectively over the network’s comparable Conference Finals coverage last year, based on Nielsen Fast Nationals.  It is also TNT’s highest-rated and most-viewed NBA game telecast this season.  Additionally, TNT’s Inside the NBA averaged a 2.6 overnight rating, based on Nielsen metered market ratings, to rank as the second highest-rated program of the night across cable television. TNT’s Cavaliers vs. Hawks telecast peaked with an average of 8.6 million total viewers and a 5.4 U.S. HH rating from 11-11:15 p.m. ET.  Last night’s coverage generated a 31.4 metered market rating in Cleveland, the highest on record for an NBA game airing on TNT locally, and a 15.4 in Atlanta.

According to Nielsen Social, last night’s Cavaliers/Hawks Game 1 was the most-discussed program of the night across all of television (cable and broadcast) on Twitter. The Cavaliers/Hawks telecast generated more than 60 million social media impressions for content published across Turner’s NBA on TNT and NBA TV accounts via Facebook and Twitter, up 59% over the comparable game window last year. Live streaming of Cavaliers/Hawks Game 1 across digital screens – including Turner’s TV Everywhere platforms – is up 136% in live stream starts, 96% in total minutes consumed and 93% in uniques over last year. TNT Overtime delivered nearly three times the amount of live video starts when compared with the corresponding Conference Finals game last year…

… Through four games on NBC and NBCSN (as of Tuesday), coverage of the Eastern and Western Conference Finals has averaged 1.836 million viewers, up 12% through the first four games last year on NBC/ NBCSN (1.646 million). In addition, the Conference Finals on NBC Sports Live Extra have totaled 313,000 uniques (up 81% through same time period in 2014) and 22 million minutes watched (up 142%)*. The Stanley Cup Playoffs on Live Extra have totaled over 1 million uniques (up 10% vs. 2014) and 145 million minutes streamed (up 27%)…

…Game 3 of the Rangers/Lightning NHL Eastern Conference final earned 1.7 million viewers on NBCSN Wednesday night, up 39% from Canadiens/Rangers last year (1.2M) but down 42% from Penguins/Bruins in 2013 (2.8M). (SMW)

Prior to that, Game 2 of the series on NBCSN delivered record ratings in Tampa. NBCSN’s coverage (8-11 p.m. ET) produced an 8.7 local rating in the Tampa market, making it the highest-rated Lightning game on any NBC network since NBC Sports Group acquired NHL broadcast rights in 2005. Nationally, last night’s Lightning-Rangers game produced a 1.55 overnight rating, up 13% from Game 2 of the 2014 Eastern Conference Final between the Rangers and Canadiens on NBCSN (1.37). NBC Sports Live Extra produced 80,000 uniques and nearly four million minutes watched, up 74% and 71% in those respective metrics when compared with Game 2 of last year’s Eastern Conference Final (46,000 uniques, 2.34 million minutes watched)…

…Tuesday night’s triple-overtime thriller between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Anaheim Ducks (which didn’t end until 2:15 a.m. ET), in which the Blackhawks defeated to the Ducks by a score of 3-2 to even the series at one game apiece, produced a 3.1 rating in Los Angeles, making it the highest-rated Ducks game ever on NBCSN in the L.A. market. Nationally, the game produced a 1.37 overnight rating, up 4% from last year’s Game 2 matchup between Chicago and Los Angeles (1.32). Chicago was the top market, producing a 12.5 rating…

… The return of the UEFA Champions League to ESPN Deportes delivered strong ratings throughout the season, scoring its top two highest-rated telecasts of the year thus far with the two-legged semifinal between Real Madrid and Juventus on May 5 and 13. The first leg encounter scored second place, averaging a 2.6 Hispanic household US rating and 386,000 Hispanic household impressions. The second leg averaged a 2.7 Hispanic household US rating and 397,000 Hispanic household impressions, becoming the top match. The second leg also became the most-watched ESPN Deportes event to date on WatchESPN with more than 3 million total live minutes.

Overall, the 2014-15 UEFA Champions League season on ESPN Deportes averaged a 0.9 Hispanic household rating with 173,000 Hispanic P2+ viewers. Throughout the season, the UEFA Champions League matches boosted ESPN Deportes’ live game windows by +350% compared to the same dayparts last year. From the Round of 16 through the semifinals, the UEFA Champions League on ESPN Deportes reached an average of 3.2 million Hispanic P2+ viewers.

The 2014-15 UEFA Champions League matches also drove digital growth across ESPN Deportes on WatchESPN and ESPN Deportes+. Throughout the season, there were 1.2 million live unique devices that watched 54 million live minutes of UEFA Champions League on ESPN Deportes via WatchESPN and ESPN Deportes+. The Champions League matches also swept all top 20 spots of the most-watched ESPN Deportes events on WatchESPN…

… On Sunday, a record audience watched Team Canada top off their unbeaten run with a gold medal at the 2015 IIHF WORLD Championship with overnight data from Numeris notching an average audience of more than 1.5 million viewers for Canada’s 6-1 victory over Russia on TSN, making it the most-watched Gold Medal Game in tournament history and the most-watched broadcast of the day. The average audience for Sunday’s game was up 11% compared to the previous IIHF WORLD Championship record-holding broadcast (1.35 million for the 2005 final). Overall, 4 million unique Canadian viewers tuned in to watch Team Canada win gold.  Audience levels on TSN peaked at 2.2 million viewers at 4:57 p.m. ET, in the last minute of the championship game.

Viewers watched a record total of 25 million hours of the 2015 IIHF WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP on TSN – more than four times the coverage compared to last year.

In total, 10.5 million viewers – or nearly one-third of Canada’s population – tuned in to watch some part of TSN’s expanded coverage of the 2015 IIHF World Championship.

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