SBD/March 16, 2016/Media

College Hoops Viewership Trends Lower For Most Networks In '15-16; FS1 Sees Gain

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FS1, which broadcast Seton Hall-Villanova, saw ratings increase for a third straight year

College basketball viewership was down during the regular season across most networks. Part of the decline can be attributed to a constant shuffle of the men’s top 10, while record figures for presidential debates on cable TV also had an impact. However, the trend for regular-season college hoops viewership has been going down for years now for several nets. CBS led all nets this season, averaging 1.47 million viewers for its weekend telecasts. That figure is down from 1.64 million viewers last season and 1.8 million viewers for the ’13-14 season. ESPN also is down again after averaging record numbers in ’13-14. The net’s men’s college hoops games drew 1.23 million viewers, down from 1.38 million viewers in ’14-15. ESPN did see a gain for its “Big Monday” telecasts, which featured a doubleheader of ACC and Big 12 games. That doubleheader window averaged 1.48 million viewers, up 9% from last season. ESPN Thursday night windows also were up 10% this season. Despite the drop, ESPN still managed the four most-viewed regular-season games of the season, led by North Carolina-Duke on March 5 with 3.17 million viewers. Louisville was ESPN’s highest-rated market for games for the 14th straight season. Looking at WatchESPN, the platform saw big increases across the board for its 1,800 game telecasts (average minute impressions, unique viewers, total minutes viewed). WatchESPN also had its five most-watched college hoops games this season.

NUMBERS GAME
: ESPN2 saw a sharp drop for game coverage, with viewership down to 362,000 viewers from 426,000 last season. ESPNU also had its lowest figure in years, averaging 118,000 viewers. Perhaps the only net to see a gain was FS1, which is up for the third straight season. The cable net averaged 109,000 viewers in ’15-16 compared to 100,000 viewers last season. However, Fox’ broadcast net averaged 639,000 viewers, down from 685,000 last year, primarily due to the net broadcasting Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski's 1,000th win last season, which remains the net's best hoops audience on record. Looking at combined Fox and FS1 numbers, Fox Sports averaged 163,000 viewers for its college basketball programming, up from 156,000 last season and up from 103,000 in ’13-14.

MEN'S COLLEGE BASKETBALL REGULAR-SEASON VIEWERSHIP
NET
'15-16 (000)
'14-15 (000)
'13-14 (000)
'12-13 (000)
'11-12 (000)
CBS
1,471
1,642
1,800
1,800
1,900
ESPN
1,232
1,376
1,454
1,370
1,353
Fox
639
685
n/a
n/a
n/a
ESPN2
362
426
414
424
449
ESPNU
118
125
140
141
140
FS1
109
100
94
n/a
n/a
NBCSN
56
48
91
77
88
           

NOTES: Figures not available for non-rated networks such as Pac-12 Networks, Big Ten Network, SEC Network and CBS Sports Network.

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Related Topics:

Media, NCAA, CBS, ESPN, Fox, FS1, NBCSN

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