SBD/March 29, 2012/Research and RatingsPrint All
Several cable TV sports networks saw record audiences during the first quarter of '12. Coming off its most-viewed year ever in '11, Golf Channel posted its most-viewed quarter ever in total-day and primetime audience. The net saw the audience for nine of 14 PGA Tour events rise over '11, with seven of those events setting new audience records on the net. Golf Channel also saw significant gains for original news shows "Golf Central" and "Morning Drive." Meanwhile, NBA TV also had its most-viewed quarter ever. The net was buoyed by three of its top five most-viewed games ever, and also continues to have the youngest average age among all cable sports nets (34.8). The net's Tuesday "Fan Night" games saw a 16% jump over the same period last year. NFL Network posted a 44.6% year-over-year gain for the net's most-viewed Q1 ever. The net was fueled by record viewership for coverage around the NFL Playoffs, Scouting Combine and free agency. Since NFL Net's first Q1 Nielsen measurement in '07, total-day viewership has nearly doubled (+93%), while primetime is up 76%. ESPNews also had its most-watched Q1 ever in terms of total-day audience, beating a previous record set in '08, and also had its most-viewed quarter among any period since Q4 in '07.
GOING DOWN: Among all cable TV networks, ESPN ranked ninth in total-day audience and third in primetime audience during Q1. The net's audience was down compared to Q1 last year, but is still seeing a double-digit percentage jump from two years ago. NBC Sports Network saw the sharpest drop among sports cable nets. The re-branded network saw its primetime audience drop 16% year-over-year, and is down 4% from two years ago. Total-day audience for NBC Sports Net is also seeing a double-digit percentage drop. Also seeing drops were Fox Soccer and ESPN2.
PRIMETIME VIEWERSHIP FOR CABLE TV SPORTS NETWORKS DURING Q1
NETWORK'12 (000)'11 (000)1 YR % +/-'10 (000)2 YR % +/- ESPN2,3602,439-3.2%1,86326.7% ESPN2441497-11.3%567-22.2% Speed266269-1.1%280-5.0% NBC Sports Network193230-16.1%201-4.0% NBA TV18913936.0%n/an/a Golf Channel1721588.9%12834.4% NFL Network16211244.6%10258.8% ESPNews1199130.8%8441.7% MLB Network52512.0%n/an/a Fuel TV40n/an/an/an/a Fox Soccer3845-15.6%41-7.3%TOTAL-DAY VIEWERSHIP FOR CABLE TV SPORTS NETWORKS DURING Q1 NETWORK'12 (000)'11 (000)1 YR % +/-'10 (000)2 YR % +/- ESPN1,0371,080-4.0%92112.6% ESPN2298315-5.4%317-6.0% Speed1591590.0%169-5.9% Golf Channel11810116.8%6971.0% NFL Network1098528.2%7839.7% NBA TV815839.7%n/an/a ESPNews715822.4%5920.3% NBC Sports Network6482-22.0%81-21.0% Fox Soccer3133-6.1%36-13.9% MLB Network30293.4%n/an/a Fuel TV19n/an/an/an/a
NOTES: Figures not available for cable nets that do not subscribe to regular Nielsen ratings, including ESPNU, ESPN Classic, NHL Network, Universal Sports, Tennis Channel, Fox College Sports, Big Ten Network, Longhorn Network and CBS Sports Network. Measured period for Q1 this year was Dec. 26, 2011 through March 25, 2012.