Ratings Roundup: Viewership Up for NBA, Masters Coverage

Ratings Roundup is a rundown of recent rating news and is derived from press releases and reports around the industry. In this week’s edition, viewership is up for ESPN’s NBA coverage, Masters broadcasts are a boon across the board, and more.

ESPN’s NBA Viewership Up 16%

ESPN closed the 2021-22 NBA regular season with double-digit growth across all live games and shows, according to Nielsen. ESPN averaged 1,401,000 viewers across 83 regular season NBA games this season, up 16% from the 2020-2021 season.

ESPN’s NBA studio shows, NBA Countdown and NBA Today also finished with significant growth during the regular season. NBA Countdown averaged 547,000 viewers, up 35% from the combined audience of last season’s NBA pregame studio shows. ESPN’s new, weekday NBA studio show, NBA Today finished the 2021-22 regular season up 36% versus last season.

Additionally, the 2021-22 regular season viewership for the NBA on ABC was up from the last two years. The 19-game package averaged 3,026,000 viewers, up 12 percent vs. last season and up three percent from the 2019-2020 campaign.

Golf Channel’s Live From The Masters Viewership Up 25%

Golf Central Live From The Masters delivered viewership records and milestones last week on Golf Channel, averaging 419,000 viewers across more than 50 live hours of comprehensive studio coverage surrounding the 2022 Masters.

Last week’s viewership – which was up 25% vs. 2021 – was punctuated by Saturday’s six-hour daytime window, which averaged more than 1 million viewers (1.012 million; 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. ET) during the six-hour span to rank as the third most-watched Live From The Masters on record.

Saturday’s viewership peaked with nearly 1.5 million viewers during the 1 p.m. ET hour, while Sunday’s viewership peaked at more than 1 million viewers during the 1 p.m. ET hour.

Daytime coverage (42 hours) averaged 479,000 viewers from Monday-Sunday, up 24% vs. last year, and delivered the most-watched Wednesday (240,000 viewers) and Thursday (586,000 viewers) daytime windows on record.

Primetime coverage (15 hours) averaged 252,000 viewers from Monday-Sunday, up 36% vs. last year; included the most-watched Monday (215,000 viewers) and Wednesday (299,000 viewers) primetime windows on record; and the most-watched Tuesday (246,000 viewers) and Sunday (310,000 viewers) primetime windows since 2018.

Overall, Golf Channel averaged 204,000 viewers in Total Day (6 a.m. – 6 a.m.) last week, making it the network’s most-watched week since last year’s Open Championship in July (week of July 12, 2021; 217,000 viewers).

NBA Has Most-Viewed Season Since 2018-19

NBA regular-season games across ABC, ESPN and TNT averaged 1.6 million viewers, up 19% from the 2020-21 season.

NBA League Pass global subscribers were up 30%, and social media platforms generated 13 billion video views, up 7%.

Record Views for ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball

The 2022 debut of Sunday Night Baseball Presented by Taco Bell was the most viewed Sunday night baseball game since 2018.

Across ESPN and ESPN2, 2,478,000 viewers tuned in, up 68% from the 2021 Sunday Night Baseball season average, and the debut of the Kayrod Cast became the most viewed MLB regular-season alternate telecast of all time.

CBS Scores With Masters Coverage

CBS Sports delivered strong viewership across all platforms for its presentation of the 2022 Masters.

Final-round coverage on CBS was the most-watched golf telecast on any network since the final round of the 2019 Masters, when Tiger Woods captured his fifth green jacket, averaging 10.173 million viewers and up +7% versus last year.

With Scottie Scheffler comfortably ahead of the competition for most of the day, Sunday’s coverage averaged 12.443 million viewers for the final hour (6:00-7:00 PM, ET) as Scheffler wrapped up his first major victory. Viewership peaked with 13.160 million viewers for the conclusion of Scheffler’s round.

Paramount+ and CBS Sports’ digital properties registered record-setting streaming for golf. Overall, the 2022 Masters is Paramount+ and CBS Sports’ most-streamed golf tournament ever in average minute audience and streaming minutes, producing double-digit year-over-year growth.

Sunday’s final round delivered the most-streamed golf day ever for Paramount+ and CBS Sports in average minute audience and streaming minutes while recording double-digit year-over-year growth.

With Yankees, Nets Coverage, Big Day for YES; Nets Viewership up 95% vs. Pre-Pandemic

The YES Network’s wall-to-wall live coverage of the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets April 8 resulted in the network’s being the #1 television network, broadcast or cable, in the New York DMA from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. that day.

YES’ live coverage started with four hours of Red Sox-Yankees pre-game coverage (9 a.m. – 1 p.m.), the biggest pre-game show ever for a regional sports network. YES’ linear coverage of the Yankees’ Opening Day extra innings win over the Red Sox generated 401,000 Total Viewers, peaking at 551,000 Total Viewers from 4:45 to 5:00 p.m. The telecast was YES’ second-most-viewed weekday afternoon Yankees season opener (traditional 1 p.m. start) in more than a decade.

On the YES App, the Red Sox-Yankees game received 103,231 Unique Viewers, eclipsing the previous YES App record of 85,461 from October 3, 2021 (Rays-Yankees).

Friday evening, the Cavs-Nets game on YES generated 136,000 average Total Viewers, YES’ third-most-viewed Nets game of the season.

The YES App also live-streamed the historic managerial debut of Rachel Balkovec, the first female manager in professional baseball, Friday evening as she led the Tampa Tarpons, the Yankees’ Single A affiliate, to a win over the Lakeland Flying Tigers.

The YES Network’s 2021-2022 Brooklyn Nets regular season games averaged 78,000 Total Viewers in the New York DMA. This is a 95% increase from the 2018-2019 season, which was the last pre-pandemic NBA season prior to this year and the last NBA season with a traditional schedule prior to this year. The Nets on YES averaged 40,000 Total Viewers during that 2018-19 season.

The 78,000 average Total Viewers for the 2021-2022 season marks YES’ most-viewed “traditional” Nets season since 2013-14, when its Nets games averaged 85,000 Total Viewers.

ESPN’s 2nd Round Masters Telecast Averages 3.5M Viewers

ESPN’s live telecast of the second round of the Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 8 averaged 3.5 million viewers, a 31 percent increase from last year’s second round, according to Nielsen Fast National data.

Airing from 3-7:30 p.m. ET, the telecast peaked at 4.6 million viewers in the 6:30 p.m. quarter hour as Tiger Woods was in the late stages of his round and staging a comeback that brought him above the cutline. Woods was playing the fifth hole when ESPN’s telecast began.

The average of 3.5 million viewers was up from the 2.7 million average for last year’s second round and was ESPN’s highest second-round average since 2018. The Friday telecast also drew an audience that was up 26 percent from the average of 2.8 million that watched Thursday’s first round. Fast Nationals are preliminary and do not include out of home or streaming audiences on computers and mobile devices.

Across the first and second rounds, ESPN’s telecasts averaged 3.3 million viewers, up 31 percent from 2021 and the highest two-day average since 2018.

Cardinals Home Opener Is Most-Watched Since 2017

The St. Louis Cardinals’ Opening Day telecast on Bally Sports Midwest was the most-watched Cardinals home opener in five years (since 2017).

The pregame ceremony and victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates averaged 140,000 households and 246,000 total viewers (Persons 2+) in the St. Louis market, according to Nielsen. Households were up 24% and viewers up 36% vs. last year’s home opener. Compared with the last pre-COVID home opener in 2019, households increased 15% and viewers leaped 54%.

The pregame ceremony, from 2:30-3:15 p.m., averaged 114,000 households and 188,000 viewers. Viewership yesterday peaked in the ninth inning at 156,000 households and 299,000 viewers.

Cardinals Opening Day was the most-watched television program in St. Louis since Super Bowl Sunday.

Cardinals local television ratings ranked No. 1 among Major League Baseball teams in 2021 and have placed in the top four in MLB in 22 consecutive seasons (2000-2021).

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