Ratings Roundup: Despite Epic Conclusion, Masters Final Round Overnights Hit 13-Year Low on CBS

Ratings roundup is a rundown of ratings news from the past week and is derived from press releases and reports around the industry. In this week’s edition, overnights for the final round of The Masters on CBS are lowest since 2004, March Madness on CBS/Turner networks was second-most watched in 23 years, the NCAA Women’s National Championship on ESPN hits three-year high, MLB Opening Night on ESPN was up 26%, SNY and YES lead off the MLB season with hot starts, Golf Films’ Jack Bests Arnie on Golf Channel, and more.

Despite Dramatic Sunday Conclusion, The Masters Overnights Hit 13-Year Low
Final round coverage of The Masters earned a 7.6 overnight rating on CBS Sunday afternoon, down 11% from last year (8.5) and the lowest since 2004 (7.3), according to SportsMediaWatch. In addition, the 7.6 is the second-lowest for final round coverage on record since Tiger Woods first entered the field in 1995. Four of the five lowest overnights since ’95 have come in the past five years, with three of those in years when Woods missed the event due to injury — this year, last year and 2014 (7.8). Overnights increased during Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose’s final holes, rising from 8.0 (6-6:30 PM ET) to 9.1 (6:30-7 PM) to the peak of 11.2 (7-7:30 PM).

Third round action on Saturday earned a 4.6 overnight, down 19% from last year (5.7). The 4.6 ranks ahead of only 2014 (4.4) as the lowest for any round of The Masters on CBS since at least 1995.

ESPN’s coverage on Thursday and Friday were down on TV, but notched record streaming numbers. ESPN’s live telecast of the second round of the Masters on Friday earned a 1.8 rating, averaging 2.603 million viewers — down 18% in ratings and 15% in viewership from last year (2.2, 3.1 million). The telecast peaked at a 2.0 rating between 6-6:30 p.m. Last year’s telecast of the second round earned a 2.2 rating and an average viewership of 3.060 million viewers. According to SMW, The telecast tied the lowest rating for round two of The Masters since ESPN began airing the event in 2008, matching 2014. It was the second-least watched, ahead of only 2014 (2.5M).

On television, the Masters first round telecast earned a 1.5 rating, averaging 2.129 million viewers, and peaking from 5:30-6 p.m. with a 1.7 rating (according to Nielsen Fast Nationals) – down 12% in ratings and 11% in viewership from last year (1.7 rating, averaging 2.398 million viewers.). According to SMW, the telecast tied the lowest rating for any round of The Masters since 2005, matching 2014, and was the second-least watched in at least a decade. Coverage in 2014 had 2.0 million.

While the ratings were down, ESPN saw record 25.8 million total minutes streamed on digital platforms, a 5% increase from 2016, and the two-day average minute audience of 46,812 was up 3% from the 2016 record of 45,313. Friday’s second round stream from 3-7:30 p.m. ET earned a record average minute audience of 49,038 viewers. On Thursday, ESPN notched an average minute audience of 44,585 viewers, up seven percent from 2016.

In Canada, The Masters on Sunday was watched by 1.3 million viewers (778,000 on CTV; 491,000 on TSN2). The Masters won the day on Sunday to become the most-watched program on English-language television, with viewership peaking at 2.5 million viewers at 7:30 p.m. ET as Garcia made his Tournament-winning put. Across TSN Digital platforms, The Masters saw an increase of 69% over last year in live-streaming.

March Madness Is Second Most-Watched in 23 Years
The 2017 NCAA Tournament on TBS, CBS, TNT and truTV was the second most-watched in 23 years (1994), averaging 10.827 million viewers, which is also up +16% from last year (9.373 million viewers). The National Championship game airing on CBS, with North Carolina defeating Gonzaga, was watched by an average of 22.998 million viewers, up +30% from last year.  The game peaked with 26.105 million viewers from 11:15-11:30 p.m. ET.

Additionally, NCAA March Madness Live netted a record-setting 98 million live video streams during the NCAA Tournament, up +33%over last year.  The National Championship game garnered 4.4 million live video streams, an all-time record for the title game.

Official March Madness social media handles garnered over 74 million engagements throughout the NCAA Tournament, a 42% increase over last year…

NCAA Women’s National Championship Hits Three-Year High
The 2017 NCAA Women’s National Championship between Mississippi State and South Carolina (April 2, 2017 at 6 p.m. on ESPN) averaged a total live audience (TV + Streaming) of 3,886,000 viewers, a three-year high for the women’s basketball national championship game, which includes a 29% increase from last year’s finale. (Syracuse vs. UConn on Tuesday, April 5). ESPN’s TV-only audience (3,827,000 viewers) for South Carolina’s 67-55 victory peaked at 5,338,000 viewers as the Gamecocks were closing in on their first women’s basketball national championship (8 p.m. – 8:15 p.m.). The game was the most-streamed women’s basketball finale ever, with a streaming average audience of 59,500 viewers and a total of 211,000 viewers watching 8,205,000 minutes.

In the second NCAA Women’s Final Four Semifinals, Mississippi State vs. UConn (March 31 at 10 p.m.) delivered a total live audience of 2,783,000 viewers, the most-watched women’s basketball semifinal game since 2013 (seven games) which includes three UConn semifinals (2016, ’15 and ’14) as part of the Huskies’ four-year national championship run. This year’s UConn semifinal audience was up 19%, 15%, and 20% from the 2016, ’15 and ’14 Huskies semifinal audiences, respectively. ESPN2’s TV-only audience (2,763,000 viewers) peaked at 3,976,000 people when the Bulldogs and Huskies were in overtime (midnight – 12:15 a.m.) and Mississippi State’s Morgan William hit the game-winning shot.

Accounting for the semifinals and national championship game, the entire three-game NCAA Women’s Final Four averaged a total live audience of 2,754,000 viewers per game, the most-watched Women’s Final Four since 2014 and up 18% from last year. This year’s event also set a new streaming record. The first semifinal between Stanford vs. South Carolina (March 31 at 7:30 p.m.) delivered a total live audience of 1,518,000 viewers.

ESPN’s exclusive presentation of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship Presented by Capital One (63 games) averaged a total live audience of 744,000 viewers per game across ESPN’s networks, also a three-year high and up 6% from last year…

MLB Opening Night Up 26%
ESPN’s exclusive MLB Opening Night telecast, in which the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Chicago Cubs 4-3, was the company’s most-watched Opening Night game ever, according to Fast Nationals from Nielsen. It delivered an average total live audience (television + streaming) of 3,707,000 average viewers, up 26 percent from 2,947,000 total live viewers for last year’s New York Mets-Kansas City Royals World Series rematch.

On television, Opening Night generated 3,616,000 average viewers, up 25 percent from 2,896,000 viewers last year.  Additionally, the Cubs-Cardinals matchup drew a record Opening Night streaming audience for ESPN. The game generated 20,457,000 total minutes streamed, 321,000 unique viewers and an average minute audience of 91,000 viewers. This was up 94 percent, 59 percent and 78 percent, respectively, from last year’s Opening Night streaming audience.

Mets Off to Hot Start on SNY
In a matchup featuring the return of former Mets pitcher and fan favorite Bartolo Colon on April 5, SNY delivered the network’s most-watched broadcast since its final farewell to Shea Stadium on Sunday, September 28, 2008.  The 7 p.m. telecast scored with viewers in the New York DMA delivering 470,329 Total Viewers, becoming one of the network’s top 20 most-watched broadcasts of all-time.  Viewership during the four-hour game peaked in the 10:00 p.m. – 10:15 p.m. quarter-hour with 628,709 Total Viewers. The extra-inning broadcast also delivered an eight-year high with a 4.70 Household Rating and peaked in the same 10:00 p.m. – 10:15 p.m. quarter-hour with a 6.21 Hosehold Rating.  It is the network’s strongest household rating since its Friday, June 12, 2009 telecast versus crosstown rival New York Yankees…

…Prior to that, on opening day (April 3), SNY’s broadcast of Mets-Braves delivered its highest total audience in the New York DMA for an Opening Day telecast since 2008. The broadcast is the second most-watched Opening Day game ever on SNY. The afternoon tilt, which ended in a 6-0 shutout victory for the Mets, posted a 4.36 Household Rating and was seen by 395,117 Total Viewers on SNY. The broadcast peaked with viewers during the 3.5 hour affair in the 3:45 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. quarter-hour where it delivered a 5.67 Household Rating and 518,001 Total Viewers. The performance marked a double-digit increase in both Households (+34%) and Total Viewers (+34%) over the previous nine-year average for Mets Openers on SNY.  It is the network’s highest Opening Day delivery in both categories since Monday, March 31, 2008 versus the Florida Marlins, which produced a 4.44 Household Rating and 406,785 Total Viewers…

Yanks Jump Out of the Gate with Opener on YES
On April 2, the New York Yankees-Tampa Bay Rays telecast was the YES Network’s most-viewed Yankees season opener in five years.  Sunday’s game averaged 445,000 Total Viewers in the New York DMA, YES’ best season opener since the 2012 season opener.  The YES telecast averaged a 4.5 TV Household rating. The Sunday Yankees-Rays telecast peaked during the 3:30-3:45 quarter-hour, when 505,000 Total Viewers tuned in.  YES was the most-viewed and highest-rated network in the New York DMA for every quarter-hour during its Yankees telecast. YES’ telecast was the most-viewed and highest-rated sports telecast in the New York DMA yesterday, besting all sports programming spanning all national and regional networks.

Jack Bests Arnie on Golf Channel
The first episode of Jack (.24 overnight rating) on Golf Channel on April 9, matched 2 of 3 episodes of Arnie, which premiered following the 2014 Masters. This makes Jack the highest-rated Golf Films project in three years, exceeding 4 other projects in that span (Payne, Arnie & Me, Crenshaw: A Walk Through Augusta, ‘86). Live+3 final data will be available later this week. Episode 2 of Jack premieres tonight at 9 p.m. ET….

Ratings Odds and Ends
…Sunday night’s thrilling gold medal game as part of the Ford World Men’s Curling Championship ranked as the third most-watched program on English-language television in Canada with 1 million viewers. Overall, a total of 2.8 million individual Canadians watched some part of the gold medal game, with audience levels peaking at 10:48 p.m. ET with 1.6 million viewers as Team Canada threw their final stone and claimed victory…

…Univision Deportes delivered record-breaking ratings and double-digit growth this first quarter in key metrics for its sports content across media platforms. Approaching its five-year anniversary, UDN took the No. 4 spot, regardless of language, during Q1 in primetime among Adults 18-49, besting NBC Sports Network, among others. This is the strongest start to a year in UDN history, and the second consecutive quarter UDN has ranked among the top five sports networks in primetime among Adults 18-49.

Driving the wins this quarter is Liga MX. On UDN, Liga MX averaged 384,000 Total Viewers P2+ and 229,000 Adults 18-49. This marks a new Q1 high for the network, the 4th straight year Q1 ratings have posted year-year growth among Total Viewers P2+ and Adults 18-49. In fact, Liga MX on UDN is outperforming NBA on NBA TV by 23 percent and 61 percent in the two demographics, respectively, and the NHL on NBCSN by 13 percent and 49 percent, respectively. Additionally, Liga MX on Univision Network averaged 1.3 million Total Viewers P2+ and 606,000 Adults 18-49, up +17% and +16% from a year ago, respectively.

The Saturday night primetime double-header “Sábado Futbolero” on Univision Network continues to make waves on the pitch, averaging 1.3 million Total Viewers P2+ (+30%) and 735,000 Adults 18-49 (+57%). Additionally, “Sábado Futbolero” outperformed NBA on ABC during the month of March among Adults 18-34…

…beIN Sports broke its own viewing records last month in the US as its channels reached more than 3 million viewers and 1.8 million among Adults 18-49 for its coverage of the World Cup Qualifiers for South America. Panama vs USA on March 28 ranked as the most-viewed match on beIN Sports year-to-date and the most-watched qualifying match of all time on the network. (Inside World Football)…

…On April 1, Saturday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on FOX from Martinsville (Va.) Speedway scored 1,591,000 viewers, making it the most-watched NCWTS race on any network in five years. The race, won by Chase Elliott, peaked at nearly two million viewers (1,952,000) during the final 30 minutes of the broadcast, and was the most-watched since the 2012 NCWTS race from Daytona International Speedway on SPEED. Audience delivery was up 35% from last year’s race on FS1 (1,177,000) and was 23% better with Adults 18-49. Additionally, it was 24% better than FOX’s last NCWTS race, Talladega in October of last year, a race that delivered 1,285,000 viewers…

…Golf Channel’s coverage of the 2017 Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals on Sunday posted its most-watched telecast ever, bringing in 380,000 average viewers per minute during the telecast. In addition, the event delivered the most-streamed minutes ever, clocking in at 234,000 for a rise of 53% YOY. (Cynopsis Sports)…

…Outdoor Channel and Sportsman Channel continued to see ratings growth during the first quarter of 2017 (January/February/March), as Outdoor Channel topped all cable channels in growth among the key demo Adults 18-34.

Compared to all other cable networks, Outdoor Channel ranked as the No. 1 basic cable network in growth among Adults 18-34 (+103%) and Men 18-34 (+67%) during Total Day (Q1 2017 vs Q1 2016).In Q1 2017, Outdoor Channel grew its coverage ratings during Total Day with Persons 2+ (+1%), Men 18-34 (+67%), Adults 18-34 (+103%) and Adults 18-49 (+5%) compared to one year ago (Q1 2017 vs. Q1 2016). Outdoor Channel delivered its highest Q1 ratings in seven years (Q1 2011-17) in Total Day with Adults 18-34 and Men 18-34. In Q1 2017, Outdoor Channel’s Monday Prime – buoyed by original series Backcountry Rescue – delivered its highest Q1 ratings in five years in households, M18-49, M25-54, A18-49 and A25-54. In Q1 2017, Outdoor Channel’s Friday Prime delivered its highest Q1 ratings in the past seven years with households, M18-49, M25-54, A18-49 and A25-54. Sportsman Channel increased its coverage ratings during Total Day with young adults as M18-34 (+12%) and A18-34 (+15%) grew from Q1 2016. Sportsman Channel grew its coverage ratings in Prime in households (+12%), P2+ (+2%), M18-34 (+12%) and A18-34 (+33%).

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