Ratings Roundup: Final FIFA World Cup Audience Over 3 Billion; ESPN Hits New High For College GameDay, Low For Heisman Presentation

The FIFA Final World Cup viewership figures are in and to no one’s surprise they are massive. In addition, ESPN’s College GameDay set new ratings and viewership records this season, while the networks coverage of the Heisman Trophy ceremony hit a 14-year low. More ratings news on Week 14 of the NFL season, NBCSN’s big 2015, record WTA ratings, and more below.

Final World Cup Figures: 3.2 Viewers Overall, 1 Billion for Final
The final figures are in and more than one billion fans tuned in to watch the final of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil, with the competition reaching a global in-home television audience of 3.2 billion people, according to FIFA and Kantar Media. An estimated 280 million people around the world watched matches online or on a mobile device, in a sign that more and more fans are embracing new technology for sports content.

2745552_full-lndThe 2014 FIFA World Cup broke several TV audience records in key international markets, including the United States and Germany.

The final between Argentina and eventual champions Germany attracted an in-home audience of 695 million, up by 12 per cent on the 2010 final for viewers watching for 20 minutes or more. The total audience for the final, including in-home and out-of-home figures for viewers watching for at least one minute, hit 1.013 billion.

Broadcasters showed some 98,087 hours of match footage in total from Brazil, up 36 per cent from 2010. View the full Television Audience Report for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Some key TV viewing figures from the 2014 FIFA World Cup: Final match total in- and out-of-home audience reach (1+ minute) hit 1.013 billion; In-home audience for final (+20 minutes) up by 12% on 2010 to 695 million; An estimated 280 million people watched matches online or on a mobile device; Total broadcast hours: 98,087 (+36% on 2010)…

ESPN’s College Game Day Notches Most Watched Season Ever
In 2015, College GameDay Built by The Home Depot averaged 1,961,000 viewers per episode (14 shows), the most-watched regular season since the show expanded to three hours on ESPN in 2013. The record-setting viewership represents a 5% increase from last season (1,859,000) and 7% from 2013 (1,830,000). The traveling college football pregame show set a new high-water mark for household rating in the same three-year time period with a 1.4 – compared to a 1.3 in 2014 and 2013.

Three times this season College GameDay set a new high-water mark for the most-watched three-hour, regular season episode, the most-recent being on Nov. 28 from Stillwater, Okla. (2,267,000 viewers). The second and third best ratings were Nov. 7, 2015 in Tuscaloosa, AL (2,233,000) and Sept. 5, 2015 in Fort Worth, TX (2,232,000). Overall, 5 of the 7 most-watched three-hour episodes occurred this season.

College GameDay on WatchESPN had a record year with the 14 most-streamed episodes ever all occurring this season, led by the week 5 (October 3rd) episode from Clemson, S.C.  Top 3 episodes based on average minute impressions: Oct.  3, 2015 with 46,000 in Clemson, SC; Sept. 19, 2015 with 43,000 in Tuscaloosa, AL; and Nov. 21, 2015 with 43,000 in Columbus, OH…

Heisman Ceremony Hits 14-Year Low
Ratings for the Heisman Trophy Presentation tied a 14-year low. Saturday’s Heisman Trophy Presentation earned a 1.9 final rating and 3.1 million viewers on ESPN, down a tick in ratings and 3% in viewership from last year (2.0, 3.2M), down 27% in both measures from 2013 (2.6, 4.2M), and tied with 2003 as the lowest rated edition of the event since 2001 (1.5). (SportsMediaWatch)…

NFL Week 14 Recap
Fox’s America’s Game of the Week, which featured the Dallas Cowboys at Green Bay Packers as the lone game, drew a 16.5/31 household rating/share, and 28.9 million viewers.  The game ranked as the highest-rated, most-watched program of the week on any network, and is the second highest-rated NFL telecast of the 2015 season.  This is the seventh time in as many opportunities that AGOTW has been the No. 1 program of the week this season, and it continues to rank as the highest-rated and most-watched program in all of television this TV season. The 16.5/31, 28.9 million viewers for AGOTW on Sunday (12/13) is +6% better in rating and +12% in audience compared to the AGOTW Week 14 window a year ago (15.6/28, 25.9 million). Through Week 14, AMERICA’S GAME OF THE WEEK on FOX is averaging a 15.8/30, with 27.5 million viewers, +3% over AGOTW’s season-to-date average audience a year ago (26.7 million viewers), and +9% better than CBS’ national game average audience (25.2 million) and +20% better than NBC’s Sunday Night Football average (23.0 million) this season.

Through 14 weeks, FOX NFL SUNDAY is averaging a 3.4/9 and 5.2 million viewers, +8% in audience ahead of last year (4.8 million), and +44% better than The NFL Today (3.6 million).

FOX NFL SUNDAY delivered its fifth consecutive ratings increase of the season over the weekend, posting a 3.7/10 and 5.6 million viewers, +37% over the 4.1 million viewers recorded in Week 14 a year ago, and is +56% better than CBS’ The NFL Today (3.6 million) in 2015.

Season-to-date, FOX NFL is averaging a 12.0/25 household rating/share for all games, and after trailing last season by as much as 7% in rating, is now one-tenth better than last year at this time (11.9/25).  FOX NFL’s average audience of 20.6 million viewers this season ranks as the third most-watched ever for the network…

…The Patriots/Texans Sunday Night Football game earned a 12.3 final rating and 21.0 million viewers on NBC, down 4% in ratings and 1% in viewership from Patriots/Chargers last year (12.8, 21.2M) but up 9% and 10%, respectively, from Panthers/Saints in 2013 (11.3, 19.1M). (SportsMediaWatch)…

… The Giants/Dolphins Monday Night Football game earned a 7.4 final rating and 11.5 million viewers on ESPN, down 13% in ratings and 17% in viewership from Falcons/Packers last year (8.5, 14.0M), down 27% and 29%, respectively, from Cowboys/Bears in 2013 (10.2, 16.2M), and the lowest rated, least-watched MNF game in Week 14 of the season since Rams/Seahawks in 2011 (6.2, 9.9M). (SportsMediaWatch)…

NBC Rides NASCAR, Other Top Programing to Record 2015
With New Year’s Day approaching, NBCSN is on pace for its best year ever in 2015, according to live plus same day data released by The Nielsen Company. NBCSN is averaging 151,000 viewers through the first 50 weeks of the year and will finish 2015 with its best-ever Total Day (6 a.m.-6 a.m.) viewership – topping by 6% the prior record set last year (143,000) which included 16 days of live Sochi Winter Olympics coverage. In addition, NBCSN is on pace for its best-ever year in Primetime (8 p.m.-11 p.m.) averaging 366,000 viewers – up 24% from last year (296,000). Among Adults 18-49, NBCSN is averaging 148,000 viewers – the best viewership figure for the network in the demo since 2009, and a 6% increase over last year (140,000).

NBCSN is averaging 151,000 Total Day viewers to-date in 2015 (Dec. 29, 2014-Dec. 13, 2015) – which will rank as the most-watched calendar year in the network’s history. NBCSN’s Total Day viewership tops by 6% the network’s previous-record of 143,000 viewers, which was set last year and included 16 days of live Sochi Winter Olympics coverage. NBCSN is averaging 366,000 Primetime viewers – the best year ever in primetime for the network and up 24% from last year (296,000). In the key primetime demographic, NBCSN is averaging 148,000 viewers among Adults 18-49 – the best viewership figure for the network in the demo since 2009, and a 6% increase over last year (140,000).

NASCAR made a solid NBCSN debut as the property returned to NBC Sports Group in the first season of a 10-year partnership. NASCAR Sprint Cup races posted the network’s four most-watched, non-Olympic telecasts ever (chart below) and led a calendar year highlighted by seven of the network’s top 10 all-time, non-Olympic shows. The top four were: July 26, 2015 – NASCAR Sprint Cup: Indianapolis with 4.70 million viewers; August 16, 2015 – NASCAR Sprint Cup: Michigan with 4.29 million viewers; August 2, 2015 – NASCAR Sprint Cup: Pocono with 4.26 million viewers and October 25, 2015 – NASCAR Sprint Cup: Talladega with 4.24 million viewers.

From the return of live NASCAR racing to NBC Sports Group over July 4th weekend through the end of the Sprint Cup Playoffs (Nov. 22), NBCSN averaged 183,000 Total Day viewers, up 120% from the same period last year (83,000) and marking the best Total Day increase for any cable network in the five-month stretch (June 29-Nov. 29).

NBCSN televised 54 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff games, averaging 1.231 million viewers – the best NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs ever for the network topping the prior mark set last year (1.227 million). NBCSN’s signature Wednesday Night Rivalry series is averaging 577,000 viewers in calendar 2015 – up 4% from the WNR series in 2014 (554,000).

After consecutive record-setting seasons in 2013-14 and 2014-15, NBCSN is averaging 439,000 viewers this season — up 3% from last year at this time. In addition, including  matches on USA Network (most telecast simultaneous to the 10 a.m. ET game on NBCSN), the Premier League is enjoying its best-ever season on U.S. cable television, averaging 483,000 viewers per match window, up 16% from last year at this time. NBCSN’s April 12 telecast of Manchester United’s 4-2 victory over Manchester City averaged 1.1 million viewers to rank as the most-watched Premier League match in U.S. cable television history. NBCSN has televised 9 of the 10 most-watched Premier League games ever on U.S. cable.

NBCSN televised its first-ever Notre Dame Football game on Nov. 21 (a 19-16 Fighting Irish victory over Boston College at Fenway Park), which averaged 2.0 million viewers to rank as the network’s most-watched college football game ever.

NBCSN’s presentation of the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series averaged 507,000 viewers, making it the most-watched IndyCar season on NBCSN since IndyCar rights were acquired in 2009. Viewership for the network’s IndyCar coverage (11 races) was up 34% from the 2014 season (378,000, 12 races), and up 26% vs. the previous record (402,000 in 2011). The Aug. 30 IndyCar season finale at Sonoma averaged 841,000 viewers to become the most-watched IndyCar race on NBCSN since rights were acquired in 2009, and the most-watched IndyCar race on cable in seven years (2008 at Richmond). The final six races of the season on NBCSN eclipsed 500,000 viewers, more than the past six seasons on NBCSN combined (five).

NBCSN averaged 418,000 viewers for its live coverage of 13 races in 2015, up 9% vs. 2014 (385,000), to rank as the best F1 season for a single cable network since 1995. (NOTE: Due to the global nature of F1, many races begin prior to 8 a.m. ET.) An NBCSN-record five 2015 races averaged more than 500,000 viewers (Bahrain, Spain, Austria, Belgium and Singapore), highlighted by 630,000 viewers for the Bahrain Grand Prix on April 19, which was the most-watched non-domestic F1 race on cable in eight years (2007 Brazilian Grand Prix).

NBCSN posted the best viewership for its live morning Tour de France telecasts since 2010 (the last year Lance Armstrong rode in the race), averaging 365,000 viewers – up 27% from last year (288,000).

WTA Overall Viewership Up a Quarter over 2014
The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) today announced key metrics from a 2015 audience report by SMG Insight, that show overall viewership up by 25% year-on-year, with 395 million cumulative viewers in 2015 versus 316 million in 2014; an all-time high. For the second consecutive year the WTA registered a substantial increase in audience; viewership rose by 23% in 2014. WTA coverage is being seen by more TV viewers, with the number of households reached by WTA programming hitting 954.4 million in 2015, a 38% increase on 2014. The greater number of ways fans can consume WTA content, meanwhile, is adding viewers who consume sport online, or who supplement TV coverage with extra content online.

Digital viewership was up 44% year-on-year, with 44.6 million viewers watching women’s tennis through online channels, compared to 31 million in 2014.

The most-viewed tournaments of the 2015 season were held in Asia, with tournaments in the US and Canada completing the top five: China Open, Beijing (34.64 million); BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore (32.49 million); Rogers Cup presented by National Bank, Toronto (29.70 million); Miami Open presented by Itau (29.37 million); BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells (26.81 million)…

Ratings Odds and Ends
Soccer legend Abby Wambach, the world’s all-time leading goal-scorer, took the field for the last time in her illustrious career on Wednesday night, and despite the U.S. Women’s National Team 1-0 loss to China, the match on FS1 attracted 709,000 viewers, making it the most-watched non-World Cup USWNT match in network history. The final Women’s World Cup victory tour match in New Orleans also delivered 308,000 viewers among the Adults 18-49 demographic, setting the record for most-watched non-World Cup USWNT match in that metric as well. The match peaked at 882,000 viewers from 10:15-10:30 PM ET. A special one-hour pregame show preceded the international friendly and drew 235,000 viewers…


…The end of the streak by the NBA’s Warriors on Saturday handed NBA TV with 630,000 total viewers, according to Nielsen, to push the network’s season average to 320,000 viewers with a markup of 6% over last year’s score for the same period. In fact, Golden State telecasts are up 33% among total viewers on the channel to deliver 543,000 total viewers compared to 407,000 for the team’s matchups to date a year ago. (Cynopsis Sports)…

…The anticipation of watching Conor McGregor face Jose Aldo, delivered FS1 multiple UFC viewership records last weekend’s UFC 194 PRELIMS telecast Saturday night.  The two-hour prime time UFC 194 PRELIMS on Saturday delivered 1,931,000 viewers and is the most-watched Pay-Per-View prelims in FS1 history, according to Nielsen Media Research. The PRELIMS peaked at 2,380,000 during the legendary Urijah Faber’s gritty decision over Frankie Saenz. In addition to being a record-setter for FS1, UFC 194 PRELIMS were the most-watched on any network in more than four years, dating back to the UFC 126 prelims on Feb. 5, 2011, which aired on Spike TV (1,964,000). The special two-hour FS1 UFC 194 WEIGH-IN SHOW on Friday (12/11), was also record-setting, becoming the most-watched weigh-in ever on FS1, delivering 294,000 viewers. FS1 UFC programming on Saturday kicked off with strong viewership for the FS1 UFC 194 PREFIGHT SHOW, which tallied 556,000 viewers and now ranks as the fourth most-watched PPV prefight in FS1 history.  Following McGregor’s shocking knockout of Jose Aldo in the first 13 seconds of the opening round, fans tuned back to FS1 for the FS1 UFC 194 POSTFIGHT SHOW, which averaged 344,000 viewers, making it the fourth most-watched POSTFIGHT SHOW ever on the net and more than tripling the viewership for the network’s PPV post-fight show in December 2014.

On FOX Deportes, UFC 194 preliminary bouts averaged 146,000 viewers to rank as second most for the calendar year behind UFC 188: VELASQUEZ VS. WERDUM prelims in June.  Among A18-49, UFC 194 prelims scored 53,000 viewers, which is up +26% over last year’s Dos Santos/Mioc prelims…

… The fifth primetime edition of the PBC on NBC drew a 1.1 final rating and 1.8 million viewers on NBC last Saturday night, down 21% in ratings and 17% in viewership from the fourth such telecast in September (1.4, 2.2M) and down 27% and 22%, respectively, from the third telecast in June (1.5, 2.3M). Ratings and viewership rank as the lowest for primetime fighting on broadcast television since before 2008 (26 telecasts), falling below the four previous PBC on NBC telecasts, all 16 editions of the UFC on FOX, and every Elite XC and Strikeforce card on CBS. (SportsMediaWatch)

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