Ratings Roundup: 2018 World Series Begins After NLCS Game 7 Hits Big in Local Markets; ESPN Captures Best NBA Opening Week in Four Years

Ratings roundup is a rundown of rating news from the past week and is derived from press releases and reports around the industry. In this week’s edition, the 2018 World Series began in Boston after the Championship Series portion of the Postseason closed on a more positive note in the National League, NBA opening week action on ESPN captures the most fans in four years, the NFL and college football season roars on, and more international soccer action took place on UniMás.

Big Numbers in NLCS Finale Gives Way to the 2018 World Series
The 2018 World Series began at Fenway Park last night, and the Boston Red Sox took Game 1 after an 8-5 win. The contest averaged a 10/18 overnight rating, according to Nielsen Media Research. Between 8-11 p.m., the game averaged a 10.2, which projects to be Fox’s highest-rated game on a Tuesday night since Game 6 of the 2017 World Series between the Houston Astros and the Los Angeles Dodgers. In local markets, L.A. 24.8/42, up 2% over last year’s Game 1 at Dodger Stadium. In Boston, the game registered a 35.1/55 to become the best overnight rating of a baseball game in Beantown since the last time the Red Sox won the World Series in 2013…

As for the NLCS, the Dodgers’ Game 7 win over the Milwaukee Brewers produced a 4.9 rating, a 26% increase over last year’s series winner (3.9 in 2017’s Game 5). In local markets, Los Angeles posted a 15.9 and Milwaukee finished with a 30.7. Both marks are the highest ratings on FS1 in respective markets. As for the previous games, Game 6 on Friday night had a 3.4 and 5.78 million, down 29% in ratings and 30% in viewership from the last LCS Game 6, Yankees-Astros last year (4.8, 8.23M). Versus the previous NLCS Game 6 — Dodgers-Cubs in 2016 — ratings fell 35% (from 5.2) and viewership 40% (from 9.71M) (SportsMediaWatch). Game 5 of the Brewers-Dodgers NLCS drew a 2.4 and 3.75 million on FS1 — down 25% in ratings and 28% in viewership from Dodgers-Cubs on TBS last year (3.2, 5.23M) and down 43% and 48% respectively from Cubs-Dodgers on FS1 in 2016 (4.2, 7.19M) (SMW)…

…In the ALCS, Boston’s Game 4 win in Houston was marred by controversy over a fan interference call that changed the course of the game. Nevertheless, last Wednesday’s contest earned a 3.8 rating and 6.18 million viewers on TBS, up 23% in ratings and 30% in viewership from Astros-Yankees on FS1 last year (3.1, 4.74M) and up 111% and 125% respectively from Indians-Blue Jays on TBS in 2016 (1.8, 2.75M), both of which aired in the afternoon. It was the first game of the series that noted an increase (SMW). The Game 5 clincher in Minute Maid Park earned a 4.0 rating and 6.52 million viewers on TBS, up 21% in ratings and 24% in viewership from Astros-Yankees on FS1 last year (3.3, 5.25M) and up 111% and 128% respectively from Indians-Blue Jays on TBS in 2016 (1.9, 2.86M). The contest was the third highest-rated game of the postseason (SMW)…

…Overall, TBS’s exclusive coverage of the American League throughout the 2018 MLB Postseason delivered significant viewership increases across all Turner platforms. TBS’s live game telecasts propelled the network to win the night across all of cable television nine times, per metered market delivery. With an average of 4,933,000 total viewers, TBS’s MLB Postseason coverage was up 55% vs. 2016 — the last time the network televised the American League — and generated a 7% increase over last year’s coverage, based on Nielsen Fast Nationals. This year’s coverage on TBS was the network’s second most-watched MLB Postseason of the Wild Card era.

Other highlights include:

  • The 2018 MLB Postseason on TBS garnered double-digit increases across all key demos including 47% growth among People 18-49 vs. the network’s comparable coverage in 2016.
  • Viewership for TBS’s ALCS coverage was up 74% over 2016, the last time the network televised the ALCS, with an average of 5.8 million viewers.
  • In Boston, ALCS Game 5 generated a 26.2 HH rating, the highest rating for an MLB telecast in the local market on any network since 2013 and TBS’s best for any MLB game in Boston in a decade.
  • MLB on TBS postgame studio coverage throughout the 2018 MLB Postseason produced a 9% increase compared to last year, based on metered market delivery.
  • Turner’s TV Everywhere platforms delivered an increase of 50% in total streaming minutes per game during the MLB Postseason vs. 2017.
  • Bleacher Report’s MLB handle registered increases of 24% in Twitter impressions over last year.

Lakers-Rockets Lead ESPN’s Most-Watched NBA Opening Week Since 2014
ESPN generated its best NBA opening week rating since 2014 on Saturday for LeBron James’ home-opener with the Los Angeles Lakers, according to Nielsen. The Lakers vs. Rockets game telecast drew a 2.5 metered market rating, also making it the highest-rated NBA regular season game on ESPN since the Warriors 73rd win game in April of 2016. Additionally, it is ESPN’s highest-rated NBA game ever on a Saturday, excluding Christmas games.

Saturday’s telecast peaked on ESPN with a 2.9 metered market rating at both 11:30-11:45 p.m. ET and again from 1-1:15 a.m. In Houston, the telecast drew a 4.8 rating, making it the highest-rated NBA regular season game on ESPN in the Houston market since 2013. It drew a 3.7 rating in the Los Angeles market. NBA After The Buzzer, ESPN’s new NBA post-game show, delivered a 2.1 rating from 1:15-1:30 a.m.

ESPN’s NBA weekend ratings success began with its Friday doubleheader, as both games were up from last year. The Toronto Raptors victory over the Boston Celtics delivered a 1.5 metered market rating, up seven percent from last year’s corresponding game. It tied two other Raptors games as the highest-rated regular season Raptors game ever on ESPN.

Friday’s nightcap —  the Golden State Warriors vs. the Utah Jazz — generated a 1.8 metered market rating, which was up six percent from last year’s comparable game.

Thursday Night Football on Fox and Sunday Night Football on NBC Bring Low Ratings in NFL Week 7
Fox and NFL Network earned a combined 5.6 rating and 9.10 million viewers for Broncos-Cardinals on Thursday Night Football, down 35% in ratings and 37% in viewership from last year (Chiefs-Raiders: 8.6, 14.4M) and down 36% and 37% respectively from the fourth TNF simulcast in 2016 (Broncos-Chargers: 8.7, 14.5M). Versus the comparable Week 7 TNF game in 2016, Bears-Packers, ratings fell 35% (from 8.6) and viewership 36% (from 14.2M) (SMW)…

…Despite the first flexing change of the season, Bengals-Chiefs scored a 9.5 rating and 16.0 million viewers on NBC’s Sunday Night Football, down 14% in ratings and 17% in viewership from last year (Falcons-Patriots: 11.0, 19.2M) and down 7% and 10% respectively from 2016 (Seahawks-Cardinals: 10.2, 17.7M). The Chiefs’ blowout win was the lowest rated and least-watched Week 7 edition of SNF since Saints-Colts in 2011, a 55-point New Orleans win that aired opposite the World Series (7.6, 12.5M)…

…Fox’s Week 7 singleheader, featuring Panthers-Eagles in 45% of markets or Saints-Ravens in 22%, had a 9.0 rating and 15.0 million viewers — down 5% in ratings and 7% in viewership from last year (ft. Cowboys-49ers: 9.5, 16.1M) and down 11% in both measures from 2016 (ft. Vikings-Eagles: 10.1, 16.9M). It was the lowest rated Week 7 singleheader since 2009 (6.4) and the least-watched since 2010 (14.9M). Also, it ranks as the lowest rated and least-watched singleheader on Fox this season (four telecasts). The previous three each had a double-digit rating and at least 17 million viewers (SMW)…

…CBS Sports’ Week 7 NFL doubleheader average on Sunday scored in the ratings with an increase of 14%, earning a 12.0/25 average household rating/share versus last year’s 10.5/22 in the metered markets. CBS’ national game window (4:25 PM, ET) earned CBS’ highest rating-to-date in the 2018 NFL season with an average household rating/share of 14.4/28, up +14% from last year (12.6/25) in the metered markets. The games featured Dallas-Washington and L.A. Rams-San Francisco. CBS’ regional game window (1:00 PM, ET) earned a rating/share of 9.5/21, up +12% from last year (8.5/19) in the metered markets. The day’s games included: New England-Chicago, Houston-Jacksonville, and Buffalo-Indianapolis…

…An Atlanta Falcons’ 23-20 home victory over the New York Giants on Monday Night Football helped ESPN win the night as the most-watched broadcast or cable network in prime time in households, viewers, and all key male and adult demos (18-34, 18-49 and 25-54), while MNF ranked as the No. 1 telecast of the night in those same categories. ESPN has won the night all seven Mondays since the season started.

Monday Night Football is averaging 11.4 million viewers, up two percent from last year’s average through seven weeks (11.2 million) — and up six percent from the 2017 full season average (10.8 million).

Giants-Falcons delivered a total live audience (TV + Streaming) of 10.4 million average viewers across ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPN Deportes.

On ESPN, the game averaged a 6.4 US household rating and 10,325,000 viewers. The game peaked during the 10-10:15 p.m. quarter hour with a 7.3 US household rating and 11,839,000 viewers. On ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes, Giants-Falcons averaged 91,000 viewers.

In New York, the game delivered a 7.3 rating on ESPN and a 5.2 rating on WWOR-IND, for a combined 12.5 rating in the market. In Atlanta, the game delivered an 8.5 rating on ESPN and a 15.2 rating on WSB-ABC, for a combined 23.7 rating in the market. The top metered markets (not including those of the competing teams): New Orleans (15.5), Norfolk, Va. (11.7), Kansas City (11.3), Washington, D.C. (10.3), Hartford-New Haven (10.0), Buffalo (9.7), Richmond-Petersburg (9.5), Charlotte (9.1), West Palm Beach (9.1), and Denver (9.0).

Purdue’s Upset Over Ohio State in Primetime on ABC Lead Week 8 Slate
The Boilermakers’ 49-20 upset generated a total live audience of 6,368,000 viewers, the most-watched game of the week across all networks and ranks among the Top 5 most-watched games of the season across all networks. In addition to airing the two most-watched games of the season, ABC now has aired five of the six most-watched games. The network’s signature franchise, Saturday Night Football, has aired four of the games. The top six games are: Ohio State at Penn State (9,159,000 viewers on ABC), Ohio State at TCU (7,244,000 viewers on ABC), Michigan at Notre Dame (7,107,000 viewers on NBC), Miami vs. LSU (6,562,000 viewers on ABC), Ohio State at Purdue (6,292,000 viewers on ABC), Wisconsin at Michigan (6,048,000 viewers on ABC).

Other highlights include:

  • The audience peaked at 8,105,000 viewers (11 – 11:15 p.m.) late in the fourth quarter as the Boilermakers extended their lead
  • ESPN/ABC has now aired the most-watched college football prime-time game for seven consecutive weeks

Also on ESPN, the telecast of Mississippi State at LSU (7 p.m.) delivered a Nielsen total live audience of 3,106,000 viewers, the second most-watched college football game in prime-time this week across all networks, trailing only ABC’s Saturday Night Football. The audience for the Tigers’ victory was up 62% from the similar game window last year…

…On the SEC on CBS, Georgia-LSU scored a 3.3 rating and 5.54 million viewers last Saturday, up 47% in ratings and 54% in viewership from last year (Auburn-LSU: 2.3, 3.60M), but down 15% and 16% respectively from 2016 (Alabama-Tennessee: 3.9, 6.58M). The Tigers’ blowout win ranked second among all college football games in week seven, behind Michigan-Wisconsin later in the night (3.5, 6.01M) (SMW).

USMNT and Mexican National Team Take Over UniMás
UniMás’ Tuesday Night broadcast (7:45pm-10:00pmET) of the U.S. Men’s National Team versus Peru delivered the highest-rated USMNT match of the year on the network. The broadcast was up +83% in Total Viewers 2+ and +76% with Adults 18-49 compared to the five other USMNT matches that have aired on UniMás in 2018. The telecast also defeated ESPN2’s broadcast of the same game in A18-49 by 8%.

The second match of the evening (10:00pm-12:00amET) featuring Mexico-Chile attracted 1.4 million Total Viewers 2+. In major local markets including Los Angeles, New York, Houston, and Dallas, Mexico-Chile led all broadcast stations from in its timeslot in Adults 18-49. In addition, the broadcast was #1 overall in Adults 18-34 for the entire day in Los Angeles and Houston.

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