Ratings Roundup: MLB Summer Camp Breaks Even in Numbers; NBC Sports Blows Out Coverage of Motorsports
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, MLB Summer Camp breaks even despite a unique setting, NBC Sports gains ratings boost for massive coverage of motorsports, the final round of the Memorial Tournament performed well on CBS and GOLF Channel, and much more.
MLB Churns Out Mid-Level Numbers for Summer Camp
According to SportsMediaWatch, Major League Baseball’s “Summer Camp” was a decent enough ratings draw.
Sunday’s White Sox-Cubs MLB “Summer Camp” game averaged a 0.31 rating and 525,000 viewers on ESPN, up 30% in ratings and 62% in viewership from the network’s previous MLB window, a weekday afternoon Red Sox-Braves Spring Training game in March (0.24, 325K). It was the most-watched MLB exhibition game on any network since ESPN averaged 863,000 for a game in Cuba four years ago. The most-watched Spring Training game ever on ESPN was a 2004 Yankees-Phillies matchup that averaged 912,000.
As one might expect, the numbers pale in comparison to regular season Sunday Night Baseball levels. On the same July Sunday last year, ESPN averaged a 0.8 and 1.33 million for Braves-Nationals.
In other Summer Camp action, ESPN2 averaged a 0.27 and 410,000 for Yankees-Mets on Saturday night. The game easily outdrew ESPN’s competing “MLS is Back” match (Portland-Houston: 0.15, 266K).
As with Sunday’s game, Saturday’s broadcast was blacked out locally. YES Network averaged 196,000 viewers for the game, and 204,000 for the full three-game series. By comparison, the network averaged 100,000 for this year’s abbreviated Spring Training schedule. Figures on SNY were not immediately available.
NBC Sports Packs Schedule With Motorsports Programming
NBC Sports’ presentation of the NASCAR Cup and Xfinity series from Texas Motor Speedway, the NTT IndyCar Series doubleheader from Iowa Speedway, and IMSA from Sebring International Raceway this past weekend all registered viewership increases across NBC, NBCSN, NBCSports.com, and the NBC Sports app, according to Nielsen and digital data from Adobe Analytics. In addition, NBC Sports broadcast its first-ever MotoGP race Sunday on NBC.
NBC Sports’ NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series coverage from Texas Motor Speedway on NBCSN delivered double-digit viewership gains vs. 2019 for both series. The Cup Series race on Sunday (3:26-7:18 p.m. ET) averaged a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 2.764 million viewers, up 24% vs. last year’s Texas race (2.228 million; 11/3/19), and up 14% vs. the first race of last year’s schedule on NBCSN from Chicagoland (2.428 million; 6/30/19). Viewership peaked at more than 3.2 million TV-only viewers (3.272 million) in the 7-7:15 p.m. ET quarter hour. The race delivered a 1.71 HH rating.
Saturday’s Xfinity Series coverage on NBCSN (3:01-5:34 p.m. ET) averaged a TAD of nearly 1 million viewers (980,000), up 29% vs. last year’s race at Texas (757,000; 11/2/19) to rank as the most-watched Xfinity race from Texas on cable in four years. Viewership peaked at nearly 1.2 million viewers (1.173 million) during the 5:15-5:30 p.m. ET quarter hour, with the race delivering a 0.63 HH rating.
All four of NBC Sports’ 2020 NASCAR races (two Cup, two Xfinity) have delivered double-digit viewership gains vs. 2019, as the Cup Series Brickyard 400 and the Xfinity Series Pennzoil 150 events on Fourth of July weekend posted 46% and 21% year-over-year viewership increases, respectively.
NBC Sports presented an INDYCAR doubleheader this past weekend with primetime races from Iowa Speedway on Friday and Saturday nights on NBCSN. Across both races, Iowa averaged a TAD of 350,000 viewers, up 119% vs. Iowa’s rain-delayed coverage for a single race in 2019.
Saturday night’s telecast (8:37-10:31 p.m. ET) averaged a TAD of 362,000 viewers, up 126% vs. last year’s rain delayed coverage from Iowa (160,000) and up 6% vs. NBCSN’s two-race average for Saturday night races last season (341,000). The race delivered a 0.23 HH rating.
For only the second time in its history, NBCSN telecast a Friday night INDYCAR race this past weekend, averaging a TAD of 339,000 viewers (9:08-11:06 p.m. ET), up 112% vs. last year’s rain delayed coverage from Iowa (160,000) and up 72% compared to NBCSN’s only previous Friday night race (2009 from Japan; 11 pm ET; 197,000 viewers). The race delivered a 0.21 HH rating.
For six races so far this season (3 NBC, 3 NBCSN), INDYCAR coverage has averaged a TAD of 740,000 viewers, up 9% vs. the first six races last year on NBC/NBCSN (679,000), excluding the Indy 500.
Saturday’s IMSA telecast from Sebring International Raceway on NBCSN (5:34-8:37 p.m. ET) averaged 357,000 viewers, making it NBC Sports’ most-watched IMSA race on record since acquiring media rights to the series last season. Viewership was also up 91% vs. the IMSA average for races on NBCSN. The race delivered a 0.23 HH rating.
NBC Sports presented the MotoGP Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday on NBC (3-4:30 p.m. ET), its first-ever broadcast of the series. The race averaged 527,000 viewers and delivered a 0.36 HH rating.
Memorial Tournament’s Final Round Reaches Raise on CBS, GOLF Channel
According to Cynopsis Sports, the Memorial Tournament on CBS on Sunday ranked as the most-watched final round of the tournament since 2015, according to Nielsen. The round averaged 3.227 million viewers for a 9% rise of last year. Since returning to live golf in June, CBS Sports’ has seen overall viewership grow 28% over comparable events last year, averaging 2.480 million viewers.
In addition, GOLF Channel’s final round lead-in coverage of the Memorial Tournament on Sunday earned 1.47 million average viewers, up 40% year-over-year. That is good enough to score as the most-watched GOLF Channel lead-in telecast ever at the Memorial and became GOLF Channel’s most-watched lead-in telecast to-date in 2020, and the most-watched since the 2019 Genesis Open final round in February.
NASCAR, Fox Sports Reflect on Results of First Half
According to SportsBusiness Journal, Fox Sports earned 3.702 million viewers for its portion of the 2020 season, which is down 30,000 viewers from the 3.732 million last year. However, that comes despite eight of 16 races being affected or delayed by weather, including rainouts at two of the most important races, the Daytona 500 and the spring Talladega race, and some scheduled on weeknights.
For the rained shortened Daytona 500 on the original date, Fox earned 10.935 million viewers for the 20 laps that were raced before it was postponed to a Monday, up 19% from the prior year. That Monday race ended up getting 7.026 million viewers.
NASCAR was one of the first sports to return to action after the pandemic reached the U.S., when it restarted its campaign at Darlington Raceway in mid-May. While that race, The Real Heroes 400, got big numbers — a 3.7 rating and 6.323 million viewers — ratings started to normalize after that. Brian Herbst, NASCAR’s senior vice president of media and productions, noted that NASCAR was down 10% for the season before the pandemic started (largely because of the Daytona 500 rainout), so it shows how strongly the sport closed that gap to finish down only 1%.
Odds and Ends: Formula 1, World TeamTennis, Copa por México, UFC, Haskell, AVP
The Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix averaged a 0.42 rating and 703,000 viewers on ESPN Sunday morning, up 24% in ratings and 32% in viewership from last year’s race on ESPN2 (0.34, 520K). The race was ESPN’s most-watched program in more than a week. (SMW)
CBS saw its broadcast of the World TeamTennis match on July 19 between the Vegas Rollers and Washington Kastles delivered 484,000 viewers, the most in the league’s 45-year history. The previous viewership record for World TeamTennis occurred on July 21, 2019, with the league’s debut on CBS for a match featuring the Philadelphia Freedoms and Vegas Rollers and averaged 409,000 viewers. (Cynopsis Sports)
Sunday night’s Cruz Azul vs. Chivas Copa por México battle on Univision scored 919,000 Total Viewers, according to Nielsen, with 478,000 Adults 18-49 on UniMás. Overall, the first-ever Copa por México tournament averaged 423,000 Total Viewers 2+ and 223,000 Adults 18-49 over the course of its 14 telecasts across Univision Networks – Univision, UniMas, and TUDN.
UFC Fight Night prelims averaged a 0.33 rating and 509,000 viewers on ESPN Saturday, down 38% and 37% respectively from UFC 251 prelims the previous weekend (0.53, 809K). (SMW)
Saturday’s Breeders Cup Challenge Haskell Invitational averaged a 0.51 and 732,000 on NBC, trailing weather-delayed coverage last year (0.57, 821K). (SMW)
The AVP volleyball tour averaged a 0.31 and 429,000 on NBC Saturday and a 0.49 and 731,000 on Sunday. NBC’s lone telecast last season averaged a 0.50 and 732,000. (SMW)