Ratings Roundup: NBA Playoff Opener Was Most-Watched in 11 Years

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, big numbers for the NBA Playoffs opening weekend, Terrell Owens gives Fan Controlled Football a boost on social media, and more.

NBA Playoffs Opening Weekend Sets Record

ESPN and ABC combined for its most-watched opening weekend of the NBA Playoffs in 11 years, according to Nielsen. The five-game slate across Saturday, April 16 and Sunday, April 17, averaged 4,170,000 viewers, up 32 percent from last year and the most since 2011.

The thrilling Boston Celtics vs. Brooklyn Nets Game 1 on ABC generated 6,895,000 viewers, peaking with nearly 10 million viewers (9,847,000) in the 6 p.m. ET quarter hour. The game broadcast was up 51 percent from last year’s comparable game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Phoenix Suns. It was also the most-watched first-round game since 2016.

The Golden State Warriors Game 1 victory over the Denver Nuggets on ABC averaged 4,520,000 viewers, up 16 percent from last year’s comparable game between the Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics. Overall, the two-game ABC average was at 5,715,000 viewers, up 34 percent from last year’s NBA on ABC first round coverage.

Additionally, ESPN’s three opening weekend games averaged 3,087,000 viewers, up 37 percent from last year’s first-round coverage. Game 1 of the Philadelphia 76ers vs. Toronto Raptors series averaged 3,598,000 viewers, up 18 percent from last year’s first-round average.

The Memphis Grizzlies vs. Minnesota Timberwolves Game 1 on ESPN drew 3,358,000 viewers, while the Utah Jazz vs. Dallas Mavericks Game 1 on ESPN generated 2,335,000 viewers.

The 2022 NBA Playoffs Presented by Google Pixel continue this weekend with seven more games across ESPN and ABC. The commentator assignments and coverage details will be released soon.

Terrell Owens Boosts FCF Viewership

Fan Controlled Football (FCF), the only professional sports league that empowers fans to call plays in real-time, had a record-breaking opening week for Season v2.0 with record viewership across all streaming platforms, and NFL Hall of Famer and Zappers wide receiver Terrell Owens’ touchdown catch garnering more than 10 million views across social channels.

Overall, FCF action generated 2.5 million total live views across Twitch, NBCLX, DAZN and FuboTV, more than tripling the 700,000 total live views from last year’s opening week.

The 48 year-old Owens’ first touchdown catch in nearly a decade received more than 10 million views across all FCF social platforms, surpassing last year’s most-viewed highlight – a game-winning Hail Mary touchdown catch by current NFL wide receiver and former Zapper Josh Gordon. In total, FCF highlights set a new record with more than 15 million total views across all social platforms during opening week.

FCF Season v2.0 kicked off last Saturday, April 16, at the league’s new, state-of-the-art venue at Pratt-Pullman Yards located just east of Downtown Atlanta. The opening week of action featured four games played between FCF’s four OG teams from Season v1.0 and the league’s
four new Ballerz Collective NFT expansion teams.

“FCF is back and our opening week’s success proved once again that our league is capable of giving fans unprecedented access, control and connection to America’s most popular sport,” said FCF Co-Founder and CEO Sohrob Farudi. “The atmosphere in our venue at Pratt-Pullman Yards was electric and I am thrilled that fans were able to see our product in person for the very first time. We’ve got an NFL Hall of Famer catching touchdowns and eight rosters of talented and driven players. With millions of fans watching in-venue and from home on their devices, this season will be truly special.”

FCF made its debut in February 2021, featuring four teams owned by some of the biggest names in sports and entertainment including Marshawn Lynch, Quavo, Richard Sherman, Austin Ekeler, Dalvin Cook, and Bob Menery. The league has redefined football for the digital age by combining the competitiveness of live sports, the engagement of fantasy sports, and the interactivity of video games into a live streamed, leaned-in fan experience. Season v1.0 saw FCF become the fastest growing live sports channel on Twitch with nearly 10 million total live views, and one of the top sports Apps in the Apple App Store.

3 Million Viewers for New USFL’s Debut

The new USFL kicked off April 16 in a historic simulcast on FOX and NBC – delivering a projected 3 million viewers across the networks and their streaming platforms. The Stallions’ victory over the Generals peaked with nearly 3.5 million viewers at 10:45 p.m. ET.

Univision Scores With Real Madrid vs. Chelsea

On April 12, Univision’s UEFA Champions League Quarterfinal matchup of Real Madrid vs. Chelsea led ratings with 1 million viewers P2+ and 483K with A18-49 outperforming the same match telecast on CBS by +15% with P2+ and +60% with A18-49.

It was the third best UCL Quarterfinal match ever with P2+ on any network regardless of language, and first and second best UCL quarterfinals of all time are Univision matches from 2020.

It bested the CBS telecast of same match by +15% with P2+ and +60% with A18-49. CBS posted 904K P2+ and 301K A18-49.

Univision dominated the Hispanic Men Demo; The match carried a 43% share with Hispanic men A18-34 between 5p-530p watching match on Univision.

NBA Nets Most-Viewed Playoff Weekend in a Decade

The NBA delivered its most-viewed opening playoff weekend in more than a decade. The Nets. Vs. Celtics on ABC averaged 6.9 million viewers and peaked at 9.8 million viewers, the most viewed first-round game since 2016.

Opening weekend of the playoffs across ABC, ESPN and TNT averaged 4.05 million viewers, the most viewed opening playoff weekend since 2011.

More Than 4M Tune In for Bristol Dirt Race

More than 4 million viewers tuned in to Fox to watch Kyle Busch win the NASCAR Cup Series race Easter Sunday at Bristol Dirt.

Viewership was up 20% over last year’s equivalent race (Richmond, 3,348,000) and up 28% over last year’s rain-delayed Bristol Dirt Race.

Talladega Race Watched by 4.7M

April 24’s NASCAR Cup Series event at Talladega Superspeedway on Fox earned a 2.61 rating and an average of 4.7 million viewers tuned in per minute, ranking NASCAR as the #2 sport of the week behind only one NBA Playoff game. This is the most-viewed NASCAR broadcast since race 1 (2022 DAYTONA 500).

The rating was down -7% versus 2021 Talladega on FOX (2.81, Race 10), while viewership remained flat. At peak, 6.0 million viewers were tuned in.

NASCAR Xfinity Series earned a 1.29 rating and an average of 2.1 million viewers. This is the most-viewed Xfinity Series race on any track or network since February 2017 (Daytona).

The rating was up 24% over 2021 Talladega on FOX (1.04, Race 8) while viewership increased +28% (1.6 million, Race 8). It was most-viewed Xfinity Series race at Talladega since April 2016 . At peak, 2.8 million viewers were tuned in.

ESPN Sees Record Viewers for NCAA Gymnastics Championship

The 2022 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championship Registered 922,000 viewers, the most-watched college gymnastics meet ever on ESPN networks.

Viewership for the championship was up 11% vs. 2021, with viewership among women ages 18-49 up 58%. Women accounted for 55% of the three-session audience.

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