SBD/July 9, 2013/Research and Ratings

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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