SBD/January 10, 2013/Research and Ratings

Fuel TV Leads Cable Sports Net Growth In '12; ESPN Third Among All Nets In Primetime

Fuel TV led all cable sports nets in primetime and total-day audience growth in '12, spurred by the addition of UFC programming. The net averaged 40,000 viewers in primetime last year, up 167%, while total-day viewership was up 110%. The net's growth was head-and-shoulders above any network in the U.S. cable TV universe. NBA TV also had big gains in '12, with primetime audience up 54%. The net was aided by an on-time start to the '12-13 NBA season, after going without games during the lockout in November and December of '11. An expanded package of Thursday night games paid dividends for NFL Network, with primetime audience for the year up 34%. ESPNews also saw decent growth for its total-day audience (+10%). ESPN continued to lead all sports cable nets in audience. The net's 2.3 million viewers in primetime was flat compared to last year, while total-day audience was down slightly. Among all U.S. cable nets, ESPN's primetime audience ranked third, behind only USA Network and Disney Channel. In total-day audience, ESPN ranked eighth. Several sports nets saw double-digit percentage declines in primetime, including ESPN2, Speed, NBC Sports Net (no NHL in Q4) and Fox Soccer. Speed, which is to be re-branded Fox Sports 1 this summer, was the only cable sports net to see a double-digit decline in total-day audience. 
CABLE SPORTS NET PRIMETIME AUDIENCE
NETWORK
'12 (000)
'11 (000)
% +/-
Fuel TV
40
15
167%
NBA TV
123
80
54%
NFL Network
381
285
34%
ESPNews
102
95
7%
ESPN
2,342
2,342
0%
MLB Network
106
109
-3%
Golf Channel
139
152
-9%
ESPN2
476
541
-12%
Speed
202
237
-15%
NBC Sports Net
244
293
-17%
Fox Soccer
31
46
-33%
CABLE SPORTS NET TOTAL-DAY AUDIENCE
NETWORK
'12 (000)
'11 (000)
% +/-
Fuel TV
21
10
110%
NBA TV
60
38
58%
NFL Network
152
128
19%
ESPNews
67
61
10%
NBC Sports Net
104
95
9%
MLB Network
53
49
8%
Golf Channel
96
91
5%
ESPN
1,020
1,037
-2%
Fox Soccer
27
29
-7%
ESPN2
285
310
-8%
Speed
121
139
-13%
 

NOTES: Last year's measured period was Dec. 26, 2011 through Dec. 30, 2012. The previous year was measured from Dec. 27, 2010 through Dec. 25, 2011. Figures for networks such as ESPNU, ESPN Classic, Big Ten Network, NHL Network, CBS Sports Network, Tennis Channel, Pac-12 Network, Sportsman Channel and Outdoor Channel were unavailable, as those channels do not subscribe to regular Nielsen ratings.

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