Ratings Roundup: Tiger Wood’s First Masters Win in 14 Years Crushes Morning Golf Record on CBS

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 2019 Masters breaks a 34-year-old morning record for a golf telecast, the men’s and women’s March Madness tournament concluded across ESPN and Turner/CBS, the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs kicked off last Wednesday, NESN grabbed their best Bruins rating of the year as well as the most-watched pregame ceremony since 2005, NBC Sports’ coverage of the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series is up, the Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix reached its largest U.S. audience on ESPN, and Liga MX pushes ratings success on Univision.

Tiger Woods’s Victory Breaks 34-Year-Old Record at The Masters
CBS Sports’ final-round coverage of the 2019 Masters, which aired live Sunday morning due to the weather adjusted tee times (9:00 AM-3:00 PM, ET) and its encore presentation of the final-round (3:00-7:00 PM, ET), dominated the day’s sports landscape scoring the top two rated sports broadcasts of the day.

Live coverage of the Masters final round delivered a 7.7/21 average household rating/share in the metered markets, the highest-rated morning golf broadcast in 34 years.* Yesterday’s final round also is the highest-rated golf broadcast on any network since last year’s Masters final round.

The final-round peaked with a 12.1/28 rating/share from 2:15-2:30 PM, ET.

Yesterday’s final-round live coverage and encore presentation earned a combined gross household rating/share of 11.1/29 in the metered markets.

The encore presentation of the final round earned a 3.4/8 rating/share, the third-highest rated golf broadcast-to-date on any network this year behind only the live third-round and final-round of the Masters in the metered markets.

Coverage of  Saturday’s third round was the highest-rated Saturday golf telecast on any network in four years since 2015’s Masters third round (6.5/16), earning a ratings increase of 5% from last year’s third round (5.7/13) with a 6.0/15 average household metered market rating/share. This year’s third-round rating peaked with a 7.0/16 rating/share from 6:00-6:15 PM, ET.

The top five rated markets were Greenville-Spartanburg-Asheville (10.8/20), West Palm Beach (10.6/22), Ft Myers (10.3/20), Minneapolis (10.2/26), and Nashville (9.5/17).

As for Friday’s second round on ESPN, coverage averaged 3.2 million viewers during the 3:00-7:45 p.m. ET telecast from Augusta National Golf Club. The 3.2 million average, based on Nielsen Fast National data, was ESPN’s second-largest audience for the second round since 2013, exceeded only by the 3.9 million that watched last year. The viewership average does not include the rain delay that halted play from 5:03 – 5:34 p.m. on Friday.

Friday’s audience was up significantly from 2017 (2.6 million) and 2016 (3.0 million), the last two years that Woods did not compete in the Masters due to injuries. It also was higher than 2015 (3.0 million, with Woods in competition) and 2014 (2.5 million when Woods missed the Masters for the first time in his career).

Also on ESPN, Thursday’s opening round attracted nearly 2.5 million viewers according to Nielsen Fast National data. Coverage began at 3 p.m. ET and ESPN averaged 2,482,117 viewers for the 4.5-hour telecast as a star-studded leaderboard contested the iconic venue. The viewership was lower than last year’s average of 2,971,287, which was the first time Tiger Woods had competed in the tournament since 2015, but was higher than both 2017 (2,129,214) and 2016 (2,397,624).

Greenville, S.C., led all metered markets with a 4.6 rating for the telecast, followed by Minneapolis-St. Paul at 4.4 and Buffalo at 3.8. Fort Myers-Naples was fourth at 3.6 with Columbus, Ohio, fifth at 3.4. Rounding out the top 10 metered markets were Indianapolis, 3.3; Denver and West Palm Beach, 3.0; Pittsburgh, 2.8; and Cincinnati, 2.7.

On the amateur side, the final round of the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur, won by Jennifer Kupcho (Senior, Wake Forest University), is the highest-rated amateur golf telecast – men’s or women’s – in 16 years, with a .96 Overnight Rating (Noon-3 p.m. ET/9 a.m.-Noon PT) Saturday on NBC (1.36 Overnight Rating, 2003 U.S. Amateur Men’s Finals won on the 37th hole of a sudden-death playoff, from 4-6:15 p.m. ET on NBC), according to data released today by The Nielsen Company.

Men’s March Madness Up 11% From Last Year, Women’s Edition Nabs 3.68 Million for Title Game
CBS Sports and Turner Sports’ coverage of the NCAA Tournament Men’s National Championship Game between Virginia and Texas Tech on CBS scored a 12.4/22 HH rating/share, based on Nielsen metered market ratings. The broadcast’s 12.4/22 is up 20% over last year (10.3/18) and peaked with a 15.0/30 from 11:30-11:45 PM, ET.

Overall, 2019 NCAA Tournament coverage across TBS, CBS, TNT, and truTV averaged a 7.1/15, up +11% from last year (6.4/14).

The top five rated metered markets were Richmond (31.3/48), Norfolk (23.4/39), Minneapolis (23.3/41), Louisville (23.2/37), and Kansas City (21.1/36).

NCAA March Madness Live set all-time tournament records in live streams (over 100 million) and live hours consumed (over 24 million), up 31% and 29% vs. last year. NCAA March Madness Live generated a record for last night’s NCAA Championship Game based on live uniques, with live streams and live hours consumed showing increases of 19% and 7% vs. last year. MML also set all-time daily records in both live hours (eight times) and live streams (five times) throughout this year’s tournament.

Official NCAA March Madness social accounts produced a 94% increase in engagements vs. last year’s Tournament (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram). Videos across the three platforms generated over 135 million views, up 74%.

As for the women, the 2019 NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship game between Baylor and Notre Dame (April 7, 6 p.m. ET) delivered a Nielsen reported audience of 3,689,000 viewers on ESPN, up 3% from last year’s championship game and is the second most-watched women’s basketball national championship game since 2014. The audience peaked at 5,598,000 viewers as the matchup came down to the final minutes of the game (8 p.m. – 8:15 p.m.).

The three-game NCAA Women’s Final Four on ESPN and ESPN2 averaged 2,475,000 viewers, up from last year’s three thrilling games. The first semifinal between Oregon and Baylor averaged 1,485,000 viewers, while the second semifinal between UConn and Notre Dame averaged 2,139,000 viewers. Both games were played on Friday, April 5, starting at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., respectively.

The top local markets for the Women’s Final Four included Hartford/New Haven (9.5), Portland, Ore. (5.0), Louisville (3.1), New Orleans (2.9), and Austin (2.8). Rounding out the top ten for both the semifinals and the championship game were Dallas-Ft. Worth (2.5), Tampa-St. Pete (2.4), Columbus, Ohio (2.4), Knoxville (2.4), Dayton (2.3), and Indianapolis (2.3) Overall, the women’s tournament on ESPN networks averaged 672,000 viewers per game.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs Starts With Strong Opening Night on NBC Sports
Opening Night of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs across NBCSN, USA Network, NBCSports.com, and the NBC Sports app on Wedneday had a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 519,000, which ranks as NBC Sports’ most-watched Stanley Cup Playoffs Opening Night in three years (2016, TAD of 680,000; 3 games). Compared to last year’s three-game lineup, Opening Night was up +3% (TAD of 506,000).

With a Total Audience Delivery of 758,000 average viewers, the Penguins-Islanders overtime game ranks as NBC Sports’ second-most-watched Opening Night game delivery on record (behind 2012 with Philadelphia/Pittsburgh: 844,000 viewers) and was up 13% vs. NBCSN’s comparable game last year (Flyers-Penguins, 717,000 average viewers).

Across NBC Sports streaming platforms, Wednesday night was the most streamed Stanley Cup Playoffs Opening Night on record. The four games delivered a total of 206,000 unique devices and 17.4 million live minutes, up 20% and 36%, respectively, from 2018’s Opening Night (3 games).

The strong start to the playoffs comes after an impressive NHL regular season. NBC Sports’ coverage of the 2018-19 NHL regular season – which included a record 112 games as well as a record number of doubleheaders and games featuring Canadian and Western Conference teams – delivered viewership increases across all platforms, according to Nielsen. Combined viewership across NBC, NBCSN, NBCSports.com, and the NBC Sports app averaged a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 424,000 viewers, up 2% vs. the 2017-18 regular-season (105 games, 417,000). Here is how each sector faired this year:

Punctuated by the NHL Winter Classic and Stadium Series, NHL regular season coverage on NBC averaged a TAD of 1.316 million viewers across 12 games, up +2% from 2017-18 (12 games, 1.289 million). The 2019 NHL Winter Classic between the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks from Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana, on Jan. 1 averaged a TAD of 2.972 million viewers, making it the most-watched Winter Classic in four years and up 20% vs. the 2018 game (2.482 million). The overtime Stadium Series game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers from Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pa., in primetime on Feb. 23 averaged a TAD of 1.969 million viewers, up 76% vs. the comparable game in 2018 (1.117 million) and making it the most-watched non-Winter Classic regular-season game in five years.

The 2019 NHL All-Star Game from San Jose on Jan. 26 averaged a TAD of 1.087 million viewers, making it the third-most watched NHL All-Star Game in 15 years.

Across 100 games, the NHL regular season on NBCSN averaged a TAD of 313,000 viewers, up +4% vs. the 2017-18 regular season (93 games, 302,000). NBCSN’s coverage was highlighted by its Sunday night exclusive games, which averaged a TAD of 491,000, up +12% from last year (437,000).

The Boston Bruins-Pittsburgh Penguins game on March 10 averaged a TAD of 736,000 viewers, making it NBCSN’s most-watched NHL game since the season opener of the 2017-18 season (St. Louis-Pittsburgh, 905,000). It is also the most-watched Sunday night regular season game in three years.

NBC Sports’ streaming coverage of the 2018-19 NHL regular season delivered all-time records in live minutes (248.8 million) and Average Minute Audience (AMA) (10,700 viewers). The live minutes and AMA were up 54% and 36%, respectively, vs. last season.

The Chicago Blackhawks-Pittsburgh Penguins game on Jan. 6 ranks as the most streamed NHL regular-season game ever, with 96,700 unique devices, 5.5 million live minutes, and an AMA of 35,000 viewers.

The 2019 Stadium Series game was the most-streamed Stadium Series game on record, delivering 62,000 unique devices, 4.3 million live minutes, and an AMA of 22,400 viewers.

NESN Makes Ratings Splash With Bruins-Lightning, Red Sox World Series Ring Ceremony
NESN’s coverage of one of the regular-season games between the Boston Bruins and the Tampa Bay Lightning garnered a 4.0 household overnight rating in the Boston DMA according to Nielsen, the network’s best household rating of the season. NESN estimates that last night’s game reached over 570,000 fans throughout New England. This estimate does not including out-of-home or vMVPD viewers which are currently not measured by Nielsen for regional sports networks.

The month of March has been consistently good for NESN, as Bruins games have averaged a 3.5 household rating and a 2.7 rating for Adults 25-54, the demographic most sought after by advertisers. Season-to-date in the Adults 25-54 demographic, NESN is averaging a 1.8 rating, up 1% over last season.

On the baseball diamond, NESN’s coverage of the Boston Red Sox Championship Ring Ceremony garnered an 8.1 average household rating (27 share) in the Boston DMA according to Nielsen overnights, the network’s best pre-game ceremony rating since 2005. In 2005, the Red Sox celebrated the iconic 2004 World Series Championship and NESN’s coverage received a 10.9 average household rating.

NESN estimates that 1.1 million viewers watched yesterday’s pre-game ceremony throughout New England. These ratings and viewership estimates do not including out-of-home or vMVPD viewers which are currently not measured by Nielsen for regional sports networks. NESN’s digital platforms also received over 100,000 video views of yesterday’s live coverage of the ceremony.

NESN’s coverage of the home opening game vs. the Toronto Blue Jays received an 8.2 average household rating (23 share) in the Boston DMA. NESN’s game rating was better than the combined ratings of all 4 major broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox) in the Boston DMA (5.6 combined household rating, 16 combined share).

NTT IndyCar Series Sees Increase in 2019
With St. Petersburg, Circuit of the Americas, Barber and Long Beach complete, NBC Sports’ coverage of the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series is averaging a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of nearly 400,000 viewers (397,000) across NBCSN, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app, up 21% vs. its first four races of 2018 (327,000) and NBCSN’s second-best start to a season in eight years, according to Nielsen and Adobe Analytics.

The Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach (4:41-6:36 p.m. ET) averaged a TAD of 442,000 viewers on NBCSN and NBC Sports’ digital platforms, making it the most-watched Grand Prix of Long Beach in seven years (2012; 468,000) and up 18% vs. 2018 (376,000). Coverage peaked with 473,000 TV-only viewers from 6:15-6:30 pm ET as Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi won his second consecutive Grand Prix of Long Beach. Three of the season’s first four races – St. Pete, COTA and Long Beach – registered viewership increases vs. the comparable 2018 race.

American TV Viewers Show Up for Formula 1’s Bahrain Grand Prix on ESPN
ESPN2’s live telecast of the Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday, March 31, attracted the largest U.S. television audience on record for the event, the second Formula 1 event of the season in as many races to do so.

An average of 711,000 viewers watched the telecast on ESPN2, up 3% over the average audience of 692,000 that watched the race last year on ESPN2 and up 72% from the 413,000 that watched CNBC’s telecast in 2017. The race began at 11:05 a.m. ET.

The Bahrain telecast drew the second-largest U.S. cable television audience for a Formula 1 race on record, surpassed only by the mark of 820,000 to see the Monaco Grand Prix on ESPN last year. The Bahrain telecast also saw an increase of 16% in the Adults 18-34 demographic.

The number for the Bahrain event comes on the heels of ESPN earning an audience of 659,000 for the season-opening Rolex Australian Grand Prix two weeks ago, an event that began at 1 a.m. ET. That audience was also the largest U.S. television audience for the event on record and was up 277% over the audience of 175,000 that watched the race on ESPN2 in 2018 and up 177% over the 238,000 that watched it on NBCSN in 2017.

ESPN2’s telecast of the Formula 1 qualifying session for the Bahrain event also saw an increased audience over last year – the average of 340,000 viewers was up 9% over the 311,000 that watched Bahrain qualifying last year on ESPN2.

Liga MX on Univision
For the second consecutive Saturday night, Univision outperformed ABC, NBC, and Fox for the entire night among Adults 18-34 and finished ahead of ABC and Fox among Adults 18-49. Airing from 8:55 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., the Liga MX matchup of Tigres UANL vs. Unam drew in 977,000 Total Viewers 2+ and ranked as the third and fifth most-watched program on broadcast television among Adults 18-34 (225,000) and Adults 18-49 (501,000), respectively. The sports event also drove Univision to a first-place finish on Spanish-language television for the second consecutive Saturday night with double-digit audience advantages over Telemundo among Adults 18-49 (+16% adv.) and Total Viewers 2+ (+19% adv.).

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