Ratings Roundup: NBC Earns Record Overnights for Stanley Cup Conference Finals Game 7’s; ESPN, TNT Pull in Big Numbers for NBA Conference Finals

The Chicago Blackhawks’s Western Conference Finals Game 7 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday produced a 3.27 metered market rating, making it NBC’s highest overnight rating for an NHL game ever, excluding Stanley Cup Final games. The 3.27 overnight rating was also up slightly from last year’s Kings-Blackhawks overtime Game 7 on NBCSN (3.17).

Locally, the Chicago market delivered a 26.6 HH rating, its highest ever for a non-Stanley Cup Final Blackhawks game on NBC and its third-highest overall. The Los Angeles market produced a 3.9 HH rating, its highest ever for a non-Stanley Cup Final Ducks game on NBC and its second-highest overall, trailing only the Cup-clinching Game 5 of the 2007 Stanley Cup Final (vs. Ottawa, 6.0)…

…On Friday night, the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Eastern Conference Final Game 7 win over the New York Rangers, produced a 2.65 metered market overnight rating, up 53% versus the last ECF Game 7 in 2011, which also featured the Lightning (vs. Bruins; 1.73), making it the second-highest rated game ever on NBCSN, excluding Stanley Cup Final games. The 2.65 overnight trails only last year’s Western Conference Final overtime Game 7 between the Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks (3.17) as the highest-rated non-Stanley Cup Final game ever on NBCSN. Lightning-Rangers Game 7 also ranks as a Top 5 NHL game ever on NBCSN.

Locally, the Tampa market scored an 11.9 HH rating, the highest ever for a Lightning game on any of NBC’s NHL networks (NBC, NBCSN, CNBC, USA). The New York market produced a 10.3 HH rating, the highest ever for a Rangers game on NBCSN, including Games 3-4 of last year’s Stanley Cup Final…

…Game 5 of the NBA Western Conference Finals on ESPN – the Golden State Warriors defeated the Houston Rockets to advance to the NBA Finals – delivered the largest NBA audience on ESPN in three years. An average audience of 8,887,000 (p2+) watched Game 5, which is the most-viewed NBA game on ESPN since Game 7 of the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals – Miami Heat versus Boston Celtics. Additionally, it’s the most-watched ESPN telecast of 2015 since the inaugural College Football National Championship on January 12, 2015. Game 5 delivered a peak audience of 10,786,000 viewers. Wednesday’s telecast also stands as the most-watched game of the NBA Playoffs on any network. Additionally, Game 5 delivered a 5.6 U.S. household rating, making it the highest-rated telecast of the night across key demos, including M18-34, M18-49, M25-54, P18-34, P18-49, and P25-54.

On Monday, Game 4 of the series generated 8,280,000 viewers (p2+), which was up 59% from last time ESPN televised Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals (San Antonio-Memphis 2013), which drew 5,210,000 viewers. It was also up 29% from last year’s Western Conference Finals (San Antonio-Oklahoma City), which drew 6,420,000 viewers. Game 4 peaked with 9,399,000 viewers in the final half-hour from 10:30 p.m. – 11 p.m. ET.In addition, Game 4 delivered a 5.0 U.S. household rating on ESPN, which is up 56 percent from the comparable Game 4 in 2013 (3.2) on ESPN and up 19 percent from the comparable game in 2014 (4.2)…

…TNT’s exclusive presentation of the 2015 NBA Eastern Conference Finals – a four game sweep by the Cleveland Cavaliers over the Atlanta Hawks – combined with the Sports Emmy Award winning Inside the NBA presented by Kia to deliver the top two highest-rated programs across all of cable television each night throughout the series.  Overall, the network’s Eastern Conference Finals coverage averaged 6.8 million total viewers and a 4.2 U.S. HH rating, up 7% and 5% over the network’s comparable Conference Finals game telecasts last year (based on Nielsen Fast Nationals).

Tuesday’s final game of the series averaged 6.3 million total viewers and a 4.0 U.S. HH rating, the most-viewed and highest-rated sports program of the day across all of television.  The telecast peaked with 7.5 million total viewers and a 4.8 U.S. HH rating from 10-10:15 p.m. ET.  Locally, the Cavs/Hawks telecast earned a 35.9 in Cleveland – TNT’s highest rating on record for a Cavs game in the metered market – and a 9.0 in Atlanta.

Sunday’s Game 3 – with an average of 7.8 million viewers and a 4.7 U.S. HH rating (and peak of 10.5 million total viewers and a 6.3 U.S. HH rating from 11:15-11:30 p.m.) – delivered the most-viewed and highest-rated program of the day across all of television (cable and broadcast);

Live streaming for the four games across digital screens – including Turner’s TV Everywhere platforms – is up 74% in live stream starts, 71% in total minutes consumed and 56% in uniques over last year. Live video starts via TNT Overtime for the series are up 130% compared with the corresponding Conference Finals coverage last year.

According to Nielsen Social, each of the four games ranked as the most-discussed program of the night across all of television (cable and broadcast) on Twitter; The Cavaliers/Hawks series generated nearly 280 million social media impressions for content published across Turner’s NBA on TNT and NBA TV accounts via Facebook and Twitter, up 108% over the comparable game windows last year…

…ESPN recorded its No. 1 and No. 2 most-viewed Women’s College World Series bracket round games this past weekend. Game 12 – No. 5 LSU vs. No. 3 Michigan on Sunday, May 31 – averaged 1,950,000 viewers and Game 9 – No. 7 UCLA vs. No. 4 Auburn on Saturday, May 30 – averaged 1,612,000 viewers which bested the previous No. 1, a 2009 WCWS Game 12 – Alabama vs. Florida – which averaged 1,588,000 viewers.

ESPN’s entire presentation of the 2015 Women’s College World Series bracket round (Thursday, May 28, through Sunday, May 31) averaged 1,055,000 viewers (12 games), the second most-viewed WCWS bracket round on ESPN networks –which started in 1997 — topped only by the 2011 WCWS bracket round (1,114,000 average viewers).

No. 5 LSU vs. No. 3 Michigan is also the third most-watched WCWS game of all-time (any round), trailing the 2007 WCWS Championship Finals Game 3: Tennessee vs. Arizona (2,326,000 viewers) and  2005 WCWS Championship Finals Game 3: Michigan vs. UCLA (2,240,000 viewers).

The 2015 Women’s College World Series Championship Finals Game 1 on Monday, June 1 – where the defending national champions/No. 1 Florida defeated No. 3 Michigan 3-2 – earned a 1.0 overnight rating, which is tied for the highest-rated WCWS Championship Finals Game 1 on record (since 2007) and a 43% increase (0.7 overnight) from 2014 WCWS Championship Finals Game 1 which saw Florida defeat Alabama…

…Premier League viewership on NBC and NBCSN was up 9% from last season’s record-setting figures, while NBC Sports Live Extra saw 22% growth over last season’s record in live minutes streamed (full details below). NBC and NBCSN combined to average a record 479,000 viewers – up 9% from the then-record 438,000 viewers in NBC Sports Group’s first season covering Premier League in 2013-14 and up 118% from the combined 2012-13 season average on ESPN, ESPN2 and FOX Soccer (220,000).

Among Adults 18-49, NBC and NBCSN averaged a record 280,000 viewers – up 16% from 2013-14 (241,000) and up 119% from the combined 2012-13 season average on ESPN, ESPN2 and FOX Soccer (128,000).

NBC aired three of the four most-watched live Premier League matches in U.S. TV history this season (chart below), including Manchester United-Arsenal on Saturday, Nov. 22, which averaged 1.41 million viewers to rank as the most-watched live Premier League match in U.S. history. In just two years televising the Premier League, 12 of the 15 most-watched PL matches in U.S. TV history have aired on NBC and NBCSN, including seven during the 2014-15 season. NBCSN has televised 4 of the 5 most-watched Premier League matches in U.S. cable history (chart below), including Manchester United-Manchester City on Sunday, April 12, which averaged 1.13 million viewers to rank as the most-watched Premier League match in U.S. cable television history. NBCSN’s Liverpool-Manchester United match on Sunday, March 22 averaged 950,000 viewers to rank as the most-watched early morning (before 10 a.m. ET) Premier League match in U.S. television history. NBC’s Arsenal-Crystal Palace match on Saturday, Aug. 16 averaged 885,000 viewers, ranking as the most-watched opening weekend match in U.S. history.

On the streaming side, viewers consumed a record total of 317 million minutes of live Premier League action via NBC Sports Live Extra during the 2014-15 season – up 22% from last season. Coverage on Wednesday, March 4, set a single-day Premier League live-streaming record for minutes NBC Sports Live Extra (7.7 million) and included seven matches. Chelsea’s 1-0 win against Manchester United on Saturday, April 18, ranks as the most-streamed weekend PL match in history, with more than 85,000 uniques on NBC Sports Live Extra.

The top 5 Local Market Ratings (NBC & NBCSN combined) were Washington D.C., New York, Columbus, Denver, and Philadelphia. For NBC alone, The top fiver markets were Seattle, Louisville, Knoxville, Washington D.C., and Columbus…

…The Indianapolis 500 earned a 4.1 rating and 6.4 million viewers on ABC on May 24 (according to Nielsen fast-nationals), up 5% in ratings and 5% in viewership from last year (3.9, 6.1M), up 11% in both measures from 2013 (3.7, 5.8M), and the highest rated and most-watched Indy 500 since 2012 (4.3, 6.9M). The 4.1 rating is the second-highest since 2008, trailing only 2012. (SportsMediaWatch)…

…Later that day, NASCAR Sprint Cup racing from Charlotte earned a 3.8 final rating and 6.4 million viewers on FOX, down 7% in ratings and 8% in viewership from last year (4.1, 7.0M), down 12% and 10%, respectively, from 2013 (4.3, 7.1M), and the lowest rated and least-watched edition of the race since it moved to FOX in 2001. The race drew a lower rating than the Indianapolis 500 earlier in the day (4.1), marking the first time since 2005 — and only the third time since FOX acquired rights — that the Coca-Cola 600 trailed its open wheel rival. (SportsMediaWatch)…

…That morning the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix on NBC drew a 0.93 HH rtg (up +8% from 2014) and 1.3 million average viewers (up 2% from 2014)…

…Regional Major League Baseball action on FOX earned a 1.6 final rating and 2.7 million viewers Saturday night, up 33% in ratings and 47% in viewership from the network’s debut last year, which took place one week later in the season (1.2, 1.8M), and up 7% and 20%, respectively, from the network’s first primetime telecast in 2013 (1.5, 2.3M). The telecast earned the highest rating in three years for the season’s first primetime window on FOX, and the largest audience in four. (SportsMediaWatch)…

…Research from both Rentrak TV Essentials January-December 2014 and Ipsos Affluent Survey 2014 Doublebase names Tennis Channel’s audience as the most affluent among all ad-supported television networks.  The data also points to the economic strength of the network’s viewers, with No. 1 or top-five rankings in studies across a wide variety of key categories highly prized by advertisers: income, financial resources, luxury automotive, travel and tourism, health and fitness, spirits and entertainment, and others.  Additionally, the studies reveal the markets with the greatest Tennis Channel tune-in in 2014, both in total viewing homes and as a percentage of the number of network homes tuned in at any given time, with longtime tennis markets like New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta and Miami finding their way onto both top-10 lists.

According to Rentrak, Tennis Channel’s audience represents the highest concentration of upscale homes among all ad-supported networks.  The channel is No. 1 in percentage of viewing households in the four highest income category breaks provided by Rentrak: Household incomes of $125K+, $150K+, $200K+, and $250K+. Per Ipsos, Tennis Channel’s audience represents the highest concentration of upscale homes among all ad-supported networks.  The channel is No. 1 in percentage of viewers with annual household income of $250K+, $300K+, $400K+ and $500K+.  Tennis Channel is also No. 1 in mean household income, at $259,700.

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