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  • ESPN Q2 Viewership Drops Sharply, While NBC Sports Network Sees Audience Gains

    ESPN averaged 1.3 million viewers in primetime during Q2, down 32% from the same period last year and the lowest primetime audience for the net in at least seven years. The 32% drop was the biggest decline among cable sports networks. ESPN was no doubt hurt by a sharp drop for its NBA Playoff coverage. The net’s 17 postseason telecasts averaged 4.0 million viewers, down 36% from 6.2 million viewers last year. ESPN was the beneficiary of a seven-game Heat-Celtics Eastern Conference Finals in ’12, whereas the net aired the Spurs sweep of the Grizzlies in the ’13 Western Conference Finals. Other cable sports nets seeing sharp Q2 drops in primetime viewership were ESPN2 (-12%) and NBA TV (-12%). Meanwhile, MLB Network saw a 20% primetime jump during Q2. The net averaged 232,000 viewers for its live games during the first half of the season, up 8% from the same period in ’12. NBC Sports Network also saw a 17% primetime jump, fueled by record-setting NHL postseason viewership, which also was up 17% from last season.

    Q2 CABLE SPORTS NET PRIMETIME VIEWERSHIP
    NETWORK
    '13 (000)
    '12 (000)
    '11 (000)
    '10 (000)
    '09 (000)
    ESPN
    1,348
    1,987
    1,674
    1,753
    1,712
    NBC Sports Network
    619
    530
    552
    512
    502
    ESPN2
    415
    470
    479
    571
    627
    Speed
    206
    226
    276
    243
    300
    MLB Network
    184
    154
    143
    n/a
    n/a
    Golf Channel
    162
    164
    144
    136
    168
    NFL Network
    114
    110
    80
    92
    61
    ESPNews
    103
    95
    75
    76
    79
    NBA TV
    98
    111
    98
    n/a
    n/a
    ESPNU
    84
    n/a
    n/a
    n/a
    n/a
    Fuel TV
    45
    39
    16
    n/a
    n/a
    Fox Soccer
    39
    35
    60
    38
    30
     
    24 HOURS IN DAY: On a total day basis, ESPN also saw the sharpest drop among cable sports nets. The net averaged 715,000 viewers on a 24-hour basis in Q2, down 20% and the lowest mark for the net since it averaged 690,000 viewers in ’07. While Golf Channel posted a slight decline in primetime viewership -- when it primarily runs re-airs of events -- the net’s total-day audience was up 8% and marked the best Q2 audience in Golf Channel history. The net was fueled by increased tourney viewership, as well as its most-viewed week during a U.S. Open on the East Coast. NBCSN saw the biggest jump among sports nets and also posted its most-viewed non-Olympic quarter ever.
    Q2 CABLE SPORTS NET TOTAL-DAY VIEWERSHIP
    NETWORK
    '13 (000)
    '12 (000)
    '11 (000)
    '10 (000)
    '09 (000)
    ESPN
    715
    892
    818
    909
    871
    ESPN2
    244
    268
    266
    306
    305
    NBC Sports Network
    155
    131
    143
    138
    149
    Speed
    128
    128
    151
    139
    164
    Golf Channel
    125
    116
    90
    87
    98
    MLB Network
    83
    73
    65
    n/a
    n/a
    NFL Network
    75
    70
    50
    56
    45
    ESPNews
    64
    65
    50
    61
    65
    NBA TV
    52
    59
    50
    n/a
    n/a
    ESPNU
    44
    n/a
    n/a
    n/a
    n/a
    Fox Soccer
    31
    27
    31
    25
    21
    Fuel TV
    26
    22
    10
    n/a
    n/a
               
    NOTES: Figures not available for nets that do not subscribe to daily Nielsen ratings, including Pac-12 Network, Big Ten Network, CBS Sports Network, Fox College Sports, Longhorn Network, NHL Network, Tennis Channel, ESPN Deportes, beIN Sport, GolTV, Fox Deportes, Sportsman Channel, Outdoor Network, ESPN Classic and Universal Sports.

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