SBD/March 29, 2012/Research and Ratings

Golf Channel, NBA TV Have Best Quarterly Audience Ever To Start '12

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 % +/-
ESPN
2,360
2,439
-3.2%
1,863
26.7%
ESPN2
441
497
-11.3%
567
-22.2%
Speed
266
269
-1.1%
280
-5.0%
NBC Sports Network
193
230
-16.1%
201
-4.0%
NBA TV
189
139
36.0%
n/a
n/a
Golf Channel
172
158
8.9%
128
34.4%
NFL Network
162
112
44.6%
102
58.8%
ESPNews
119
91
30.8%
84
41.7%
MLB Network
52
51
2.0%
n/a
n/a
Fuel TV
40
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
Fox Soccer
38
45
-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 % +/-
ESPN
1,037
1,080
-4.0%
921
12.6%
ESPN2
298
315
-5.4%
317
-6.0%
Speed
159
159
0.0%
169
-5.9%
Golf Channel
118
101
16.8%
69
71.0%
NFL Network
109
85
28.2%
78
39.7%
NBA TV
81
58
39.7%
n/a
n/a
ESPNews
71
58
22.4%
59
20.3%
NBC Sports Network
64
82
-22.0%
81
-21.0%
Fox Soccer
31
33
-6.1%
36
-13.9%
MLB Network
30
29
3.4%
n/a
n/a
Fuel TV
19
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/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.
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