Ratings Roundup: Turner Sports’ Coverage of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round Becomes Most-Watched on Cable of All Time; More NHL, NBA Notes

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,  Turner Sports’ first round coverage of 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs is most-watched on cable of all time, 2022 NBA Playoffs through Conference Semifinals is the most-viewed in eight years, MLB.TV breaks consumption records for streaming through first 40 days of season, and more.

Turner Sports’ First Round Coverage of 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs Is Most-Watched on Cable of All Time

Turner Sports’ coverage of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Round 1 is the most watched first round on cable ever, and broke individual game and total round all-time records for cable.

Sunday’s New York Rangers thrilling overtime victory over the Pittsburgh in their decisive Game 7 matchup delivered 2.3 million average viewers and is the most-watched non-Stanley Cup Finals game on cable since 2018. Saturday’s tightly contested Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Toronto Maple Leafs Game 7 averaged 1.7 million viewers. Both games rank as the two most-watched first round games on cable of all time.

Stanley Cup Playoff games televised on TNT and TBS averaged 812,000 viewers across 25 telecasts and is the most-watched Round 1 on cable ever, up 60% vs. 2021 Round 1 on cable, and up 27% vs. 2019. TNT and TBS accounts for 4 of the top 5 most-watched games of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs so far.

Female viewership for playoff games airing on TNT and TBS continues to see substantial increases, up 83% vs. Round 1 on cable in 2021, and up 49% from 2019.

Additionally, the first round of Stanley Cup Playoffs coverage on Bleacher Report’s social handle generated a 104% increase in total engagements compared to coverage of the entire 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

B/R Open Ice reached over 2.9 million fans on Instagram during the first round of coverage (+91% vs. April 17 – May1).

2022 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on ESPN and ESPN2 Draw Strong Round One Viewership

The first round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs on ESPN and ESPN2 averaged 725,000 viewers across 26 games – an increase of 43% versus 2021’s first round cable average. ESPN and ESPN2 delivered six of the top 10 most-viewed Stanley Cup Playoff games so far this season, while the Pittsburgh Penguins vs. New York Rangers delivered as the most-viewed game one of a first round Stanley Cup Playoff ever on cable with 1.04 million viewers and peaked at 1.5 million.

Saturday’s Boston Bruins at Carolina Hurricanes game seven averaged 1.6 million viewers, up 112% versus the comparable 2021 game, and was the fourth most-viewed round one game on cable ever. The Hurricanes victory peaked at 2.2 million viewers. Saturday night’s game seven matchup between the Los Angeles Kings and Edmonton Oilers averaged 1.1 million viewers and peaked at 1.2 million.

The first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs ended with the Calgary Flames beating the Dallas Stars at home in a game seven overtime showdown, averaging 1.01 million viewers – an increase of 99% versus the comparable game in 2021 – and peaking at 1.2 million.

Now in the second round, ESPN is continuing its impressive run of ratings on ESPN. Game 1 of Rangers-Hurricanes averaged 1.7 million viewers, which is up 10% vs. the comparable second round cable game in 2021. This was also the most-viewed Stanley Cup Playoff Game 1 of Round 2 on cable since 2015. Game 1 of Oilers-Flames averaged 894,000 viewers, which is up 40% vs. the comparable second round cable game in 2021.

2022 NBA Playoffs Through Conference Semifinals Is Most-Viewed in Eight Years

Prior to the start of the Conference Finals, NBA playoff viewership is at the highest level in nearly a decade.

The first two rounds of the NBA Playoffs averaged 3.71 million viewers across TNT, ESPN, ABC and NBA TV, the highest average at this point of the playoffs since 2014. Viewership is up 14% from last year (3.26M), 53% from the months-delayed “bubble” two years ago (2.43M) and 4% from 2019, the previous postseason to begin as normal in the month of April (3.55M).

Excluding games on NBA TV, the postseason is averaging 4.08 million — up 15% from last year (3.56M), up 62% from two years ago (2.53M) and up 7% from ’19 (3.80M). It should be noted that out-of-home viewing was not included in 2019 (or prior years). (SportsMediaWatch)

Now in the penultimate round, TNT’s exclusive coverage of the 2022 NBA Western Conference Finals Game 1 between the Golden State Warriors and the Dallas Mavericks averaged 6.5 million total viewers on Wednesday night to deliver the network’s most-watched NBA Conference Finals Game since 2018.

The network’s Mavericks/Warriors telecast – which delivered the most watched NBA Playoff game on cable this year – is up 21% over TNT’s presentation of the 2021 NBA Eastern Conference Finals Game 1 (Hawks/Bucks, 5.4 million viewers) and 38% when compared with last year’s WCF Game 1 (Clippers/Suns, 4.7 million viewers).

Wednesday night’s WCF Game 1 telecast – peaking with an average of 7.5 million viewers from 9:45-10 p.m. ET – was the No. 1 program of the night across all of cable, and together with the iconic Inside the NBA post-game show (2.7 million viewers), delivered cable’s top two programs across key demos. Overall, TNT’s 2022 NBA Playoffs coverage has led the network to win the night on cable in primetime 18 times.

Overall, TNT continues to deliver its most watched NBA Playoffs coverage since 2018, averaging 3.8 million total viewers (38 telecasts). Wednesday night’s 9.4 rating in Dallas was TNT’s best in that market since May 4, 2011 (WCF Game 2, Mavericks/Lakers, 15.0 rating), while San Francisco garnered last night’s top local market (17.8 rating).

Turner Sports’ NBA on TNT and NBA TV social media accounts delivered a 101% increase in engagements for the series opener vs. last year.

Boston Celtics Game 7 Victory Over Milwaukee Bucks on ABC Is Most-Watched Eastern Conference Semifinals Game in 10 Years

The Boston Celtics victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 7 on ABC this past Sunday is the most-watched NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals game in 10 years, dating back to 2012, according to Nielsen. The broadcast averaged 7,481,000 viewers, peaking with 9,559,000 viewers at 6 p.m. ET.

Game 7 generated the largest television audience of the day for May 15 and the most-watched program among key demos, including P18-49, P25-54 and M25-54. Sunday’s edition of the NBA Countdown pregame show averaged 1,625,000 viewers, making it the most-watched afternoon edition of the show during this year’s NBA Playoffs.

Through the first two rounds, the NBA Playoffs across ESPN and ABC are averaging 4,573,000 viewers (25 games), up 25% from 2021.

ESPN’s coverage of the 2022 NBA Playoffs continues tonight, May 17, with Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals as the Miami Heat host the Boston Celtics at 8:30 p.m. ET. The 2022 NBA Draft Lottery will precede the telecast at 8 p.m.

2022 Eastern Conference Finals Game 1 Is Most-Watched Since 2018

Game 1 of the 2022 NBA Eastern Conference Finals, in which the Miami Heat defeated the Boston Celtics 118-107, was the most-watched Eastern Conference Finals Game 1 since 2018, according to Nielsen. The ESPN telecast averaged 6,070,000 viewers, peaking with 6,914,000 viewers at 10:30 p.m. ET.

ESPN’s coverage of Eastern Conference Finals Game 1 was up 13% from last year’s Eastern Conference Finals Game 1 between the Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks. In Boston, Game 1 generated a 14.0 rating, making it the highest-rated Conference Finals game in the market since Game 7 in 2018. In Miami, Game 1 delivered an 8.2 rating.

MLB.TV Breaks Consumption Records for Streaming Through First 40 Days of Season

MLB.TV has set numerous records for streaming through the first part of the 2022 season. Fans have watched more than 2.8 billion minutes of live games on MLB.TV, the most-watched 40-day period in the history of MLB.TV. Total games watched are up +9% compared to last season’s previously record total on MLB.TV over the same time period.

MLB.TV companion programming consumption is also increasing significantly. Viewership for Big Inning, which features live look-ins and real time highlights from all 30 Clubs, on MLB.TV is +653% in minutes watched. In addition, pregame users per game is up +104% and postgame users per game is up +84%. MLB.TV, the league’s out-of-market streaming platform, debuted 20 years ago on August 26, 2002 and is the most successful live streaming sports product.

In 2022, MLB.TV has registered the three most-watched days ever and nine of the top 10 most-watched days in MLB.TV history. The most-watched days in MLB.TV history are:

  • Tuesday, April 12, 2022
  • Friday, April 8, 2022
  • Saturday, April 9, 2022

This season has also marked the three most-watched games ever and seven of the top 10 most-watched games ever. The most-watched games in MLB.TV history are:

  • Red Sox at Yankees: Friday, April 8, 2022
  • Brewers at Cubs: Thursday, April 7, 2022
  • Guardians at Royals: Thursday, April 7, 2022

MLB fans have significantly increased engagement across MLB’s digital platforms. Weekly active users are up +10% across the network of MLB websites, the MLB app, MLB Ballpark app, and MLB Play, the league’s new predictive gaming app. Usage of the Ballpark app, which is the #1 sports app in the Apple App Store since the start of the season, has soared with daily active users increasing +128% compared to the first 40 days of the 2019 season, the most recent played with all 30 ballparks at full capacity since Opening Day.

In addition, fans are watching MLB content on YouTube for longer as the minutes-watched per viewer on MLB’s YouTube account is +53% more than last season.

2022 NASCAR Cup Series at Kansas Speedway

Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series on FS1 earned a 1.43 rating and an average of 2.3 million viewers tuned in per minute, becoming the most-watched telecast of the week on FS1. The rating was down -1% versus 2021 Race 13 on FS1 (Dover, 1.45), while viewership was down -4% (Dover, 2.4 million). The rating was down -13% versus 2021 Kansas on FS1 (Race 11, 1.64), while viewership was down 17% (Race 11, 2.8 million). At peak, 2.8 million viewers were tuned in.

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