Ratings Roundup: March Madness Ratings Take a Tumble During First Weekend, TSN Has Best February in Over a Decade

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 edition, ratings for the first weekend of March Madness were down overall while Fox Sports had its biggest season of ratings ever for college basketball; the NCAA wrestling champions set a new viewership record; TSN had its biggest February ever, ratings-wise; Liga MX help Univision stay the most-popular Spanish-language network; and the New York Yankees continue to set spring-training ratings records on the YES Network.

The elimination of favorites like Virginia, Michigan State, Arizona, and North Carolina during the opening two days of the tournament led to low ratings, with one exception.

According to Sports Media Watch, their stunning upset of the number-one overall seed made UMBC’s second-round matchup against Kansas State draw the highest ratings of the first weekend with 2.5 rating and 4.6 million viewers, which is ratings-wise 135% higher and 145% higher in viewership from last year and the highest-rated NCAA tournament game ever on TruTV.

Outside of that game, the Sunday slate of games was down 10% in ratings and 9% in viewership, save for Texas A&M-North Carolina, which scored a tournament-high 5.7 rating, with 9.4 million viewers. However, the numbers for that game are down 12% and 14% respectively from last year.

The Saturday games were a little better, ratings-wise, with the late games, Gonzaga-Ohio State, Michigan-Houston, and Texas Tech-Florida having a combined rating of 7.9, up 13% from the previous night and 13.5 million viewers, an 11% increase from last year. The daytime games, however, were noticeably down. The Duke victory over Rhode Island, despite the 4.1 rating and 6.6 million viewers, was down 30% ratings-wise from last year and 20% from two years ago.

Despite the low numbers for the tournament so far, Fox Sports had its best season of college basketball ratings ever, with men’s basketball games airing on Fox and FS1 averaging 262,000 viewers per game, according to Nielsen Media Research, a 27% jump compared to last year.

Fox Sports also saw its highest ratings for college basketball ever this season on its streaming service, Fox Sports Go. Fox Sports Go had an average minute audience per game increase of 88% from last year with 77 million minutes of college basketball consumed between Fox Sports Go and Fox Now an 134% increase from last season.

Nearly 8 Million Watch NCAA Wrestling Championships; Set Viewership Record
This year’s NCAA wrestling championships from Cleveland set new viewership records for ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPNU, where all three days of the event aired. An average of 308,000 fans tuned into the first night of competition on March 15, which the network’s best viewership number for the second round ever.

The audience increased the next two nights, as the semifinals averaged 451,000 viewers and the finals averaged 628,000 viewers on ESPN2. The semifinals are the third best audience ever and the medal round, airing on ESPNU, was up 6% from last year and was the most-watched medal round in three years.

TSN Had Most-Watched February Since 2010, Won At Canadian Screen Awards
TSN had its most-watched February in eight years, remaining the most-watched specialty network in Canada, growing its gap with its closest competitor to 25% for total viewers and 27% with adults 18 to 49. TSN’s audiences have grown 21% in total viewership on the network over the first two months of last year.

On March 6, TSN won seven Canadian Screen Awards, including Best Sports Host; Best Sports Analyst; Best Sports Play-by-Play Announcer; Best Live Sports Event; Best Direction; Live Sports Event; Best Sports Opening/Tease; and Best Sports Feature Segment.

LIGA MX Helps Univision Stay Top Spanish Network For 18th Straight Week
Thank to a slate of LIGA MX games, Univision remained the number-one Spanish language network among total viewers, adults 18-49 and adults 18-34 for the 18th week in a row.

Univision’s Liga MX soccer lineup helped the network come in at number two on Saturday with adults 18-34, beating  out NBC by 51%, ABC by 62%, and Fox by 70%.

YES Network Continues To Set Spring Training Ratings Records
The ratings rampage continues for the New York Yankees and the YES Network as the March 18 game against the Miami Marlins, the first game for newcomer Giancarlo Stanton drew a TV household rating of 2.5, making it the fourth-highest rated game ever aired on YES. This month has seen two of the four most-watched spring-training games for the network.

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