SBD/January 8, 2015/Media

ESPN's Primetime Viewership In '14 Leads All Cable Networks For The First Time

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ESPN was the most-watched U.S. cable network in primetime for the first time on record, topping USA Network, which held the top spot the last nine years. ESPN averaged 2.32 million viewers in primetime in ’14, leading all cable nets -- not just sports nets -- for the first time on record (figures date back to ’94). Viewership for ESPN was 9% higher than USA Network during the ’14 Nielsen calendar year. ESPN also saw a 5% increase in primetime compared to viewership in ’13, while total-day viewership was up 4%. Among all cable nets for total-day viewership (24-hour basis), ESPN ranked No. 7 in ’14, up from No. 10 in ’13. Meanwhile, ESPN2 was down for both primetime and total-day in ’14, while ESPNews and ESPNU both saw primetime declines.

PRIMETIME VIEWERSHIP FOR TOP CABLE NETWORKS
NETWORK
'14 (000)
'13 (000)
% +/-
ESPN
2,321
2,210
5.0%
USA Network
2,128
2,680
-20.6%
TNT
1,993
2,070
-3.7%
Disney Channel
1,909
2,438
-21.7%
History
1,824
2,114
-13.7%

COMCAST-IC: NBCSN had its best total-day audience on record in ’14, fueled largely by coverage of the Sochi Games. The net, which saw a 54% rise in total-day viewership, also had record audiences in ‘14 for the NHL regular season and Stanley Cup Playoffs, F1 and EPL. Even excluding the Winter Olympics, NBCSN would have seen a 23% jump in total-day audience. NBCSN’s primetime audience also rose 7%, marking the net’s best nightly figure since ’09. Meanwhile, Golf Channel had its second-best total-day audience on record, but was down 9% from the record-setting figures in ’13. The net’s primetime audience was down 13% and marked its lowest figure since ’10. Golf Channel continued to hit its core demo in ’14, ranking as the No. 1 most-affluent ad-supported net (highest median income and percentage of audience earning more than $100,000 annually).

NOTES: In its first full year branded as FS1, the cable net saw viewership rise 38% in primetime and 7% in total day. FS1 was aided by the addition of more college football, as well as MLB Postseason coverage for the first time. However, FS2 saw sharp drops in ’14, down 38% in primetime and down 35% in total day. NBA TV had a successful ’14, with both primetime and total-day viewership up. While MLB Network saw total-day viewership up 4%, the net’s primetime audience was down 6%.

CABLE SPORTS NET PRIMETIME AUDIENCE
NETWORK
'14 (000)
'13 (000)
'12 (000)
'11 (000)
'10 (000)
ESPN
2,321
2,210
2,343
2,342
2,401
ESPN2
469
489
476
541
634
NFL Network
385
406
381
285
258
FS1*
340
246
202
237
228
NBCSN
300
280
244
293
279
MLB Network
132
141
106
109
n/a
NBA TV
128
118
123
80
n/a
Golf Channel
123
142
139
152
119
ESPNU
116
117
n/a
n/a
n/a
ESPNews
100
105
102
95
87
Fox Deportes
69
73
n/a
n/a
n/a
FS2*
23
37
40
n/a
n/a
beIN Sport
16
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
CABLE SPORTS NET TOTAL-DAY AUDIENCE
NET
'14 (000)
'13 (000)
'12 (000)
'11 (000)
'10 (000)
ESPN
1,016
975
1,020
1,037
1,083
ESPN2
274
277
285
310
337
NFL Network
164
163
152
128
114
NBCSN
148
96
104
95
98
FS1*
131
123
121
139
138
Golf Channel
100
110
96
91
71
MLB Network
71
68
53
49
n/a
ESPNU
62
61
n/a
n/a
n/a
ESPNews
60
65
67
61
64
NBA TV
58
55
60
38
n/a
Fox Deportes
32
36
n/a
n/a
n/a
FS2*
15
23
21
n/a
n/a
beIN Sport
14
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
           

NOTES: This past year's measuring period was Dec. 30, 2013 through Dec. 28, 2014. The measuring period for the prior year was Dec. 31, 2012 through Dec. 29, 2013. * = Speed became FS1 on Aug. 17, 2013, and Fuel TV became FS2.

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