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Volume 24 No. 218

Media

Both ESPN and TNT are on pace for the nets’ best NBA viewership since '13-14
Photo: NBAE/GETTY IMAGES

Heading into All-Star weekend, NBA game viewership on national outlets is on pace for the league’s best average since the '12-13 season. For telecasts across ABC, ESPN, TNT and NBA TV, games are averaging 1.4 million viewers, up 15% from the same point last season. NBA games on RSNs also are performing well, with those games up 9% to date. Both ESPN and TNT are on pace for the nets’ best NBA viewership since '13-14, while NBA TV is looking at its best season average on record. ABC also is up slightly from the same point last year, but down from just before the '16 All-Star Game, when the net had four fewer game telecasts.

THE 123s OF ABC: The audience for Cavaliers-Warriors on Christmas Day was well below ABC’s same afternoon matchup the past two years, but the net’s average to date has been elevated up by a third Christmas game this year (compared to two in prior years), as well as last weekend’s Cavs-Celtics game. That matchup last Sunday afternoon averaged 4.6 million viewers, which is the best mark for an NBA Sunday afternoon game on ABC since Lakers-Heat drew 6.5 million viewers on Feb. 10, 2013.

WHAT TV DECLINE? NBA games on TNT are averaging 1.9 million viewers to date, up 20% from the same point last year. The net also is seeing double-digit percentage gains for all key demos, including an 18% gain among males 18-34. Meanwhile, ESPN is averaging 1.7 million viewers for its NBA games to date, up 10% from just before the All-Star break last year. ESPN also is seeing solid gains across all demos, including a 13% jump for males 18-34. On NBA TV, simulcasted games are averaging 354,000 viewers to date, up 20%. Demos are up across the board, including young males (+17%).

Twitter, Amazon, YouTube and Verizon are the remaining bidders in the "running to win digital streaming rights for the NFL’s Thursday Night Football package," according to sources cited by Kurt Wagner of RECODE. Twitter paid $10M for digital streaming rights from the NFL in '16, and Amazon won them in '17 for $50M, with the latest renewal "going for much more." Verizon is an existing NFL partner, and "already owns some mobile streaming rights for Thursday." YouTube is the "only company without a prior streaming relationship with the league." It is "unclear what kind of price the NFL is looking for" in '18. However, sources said that the league is "likely to strike a multiyear deal." One source said that Amazon is "considering dropping its bid because of concerns over new terms in the proposed contract that could limit its viewership." It is also "unclear how long a deal would be" (RECODE.net, 2/15). BLOOMBERG NEWS' Soshnick, Shaw & Soper cite sources as saying that Amazon, Twitter and YouTube are "bidding as much as hundreds of millions of dollars for rights that will run for as long as five years." The NFL is "getting help in the talks" from 21st Century Fox, which "acquired the TV rights to the games" through '22 (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 2/15).

NASCAR’s Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona last Sunday afternoon averaged 2.3 million viewers on FS1, up from 1.9 million last year, when the event was rained out on a Saturday night and moved to late Sunday morning. Two years ago, 4.84 million viewers watched the Clash when it ran in its traditional Saturday primetime slot.

NOTES: ESPN drew 603,000 viewers for a special three-hour NBA trade deadline edition of “The Jump” on Feb. 7, marking the show’s best audience on record. That figure also is up 31% from the two-hour special last year….FS Tennessee is averaging a 1.9 local rating in Nashville for Predators games to date, up 142% on the heels of the team’s run to the Stanley Cup Final last year.

The chart below lists final audience figures from select recent sports telecasts.

TELECAST
DATE
NET
TIME (ET)
RAT.
VIEWERS
(000)
Pyeongchang Games:
Opening Ceremony
2/9
NBC
8:00-11:02pm
14.7
27,837
Pyeongchang Games
2/11
NBC
7:00-11:12pm
12.4
22,676
Pyeongchang Games
2/10
NBC
8:00-11:10pm
11.6
21,394
Pyeongchang Games
2/8
NBC
8:30-11:15pm
9.0
15,995
Pyeongchang Games
2/10
NBC
11:40pm-12:45am
7.0
11,998
Pyeongchang Games
2/11
NBC
3:00-6:00pm
5.8
9,847
Pyeongchang Games
2/10
NBC
3:00-6:00pm
5.5
9,407
Pyeongchang Games
2/11
NBC
11:47pm-1:00am
4.9
8,052
NBA: Cavaliers-Celtics
2/11
ABC
3:31-6:00pm
2.9
4,635
Pyeongchang Games
2/10
NBCSN
2:00-5:01pm
2.6
4,520
PGA Tour: AT&T Pebble Beach
Pro-Am: Final Round
2/11
CBS
3:15-6:45pm
2.2
3,479
"Winter Olympics Access"
2/11
NBCSN
6:00-7:00pm
1.8
3,374
Pyeongchang Games
2/11
NBCSN
1:30-3:00pm
1.9
3,216
Pyeongchang Games
2/11
NBCSN
7:00-11:00pm
1.6
3,041
NBA: Warriors-Spurs
2/10
ABC
8:31-10:56pm
1.8
2,781
Pyeongchang Games
2/10
NBCSN
6:00am-2:00pm
1.6
2,743
Pyeongchang Games
2/11
NBCSN
3:00-6:00pm
1.5
2,729
"Winter Olympics Access"
2/10
NBCSN
7:00-8:00pm
1.5
2,715
Pyeongchang Games
2/10
NBCSN
8:00-11:00pm
1.3
2,531
"Olympics Preview"
2/5
NBC
10:00-11:00pm
1.6
2,517
NBA: Thunder-Warriors
2/6
TNT
10:33pm-1:06am
n/a
2,514
Pyeongchang Games
2/11
NBCSN
11:00pm-12:30am
1.4
2,473
PGA Tour: AT&T Pebble Beach
Pro-Am: Third Round
2/10
CBS
4:00-7:00pm
1.5
2,306
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Series: Daytona 500 qualifying
2/11
Fox
12:00-2:00pm
1.3
2,032
NHL: Penguins-Blues
2/11
NBC
12:15-3:00pm
1.2
1,888
College basketball:
Michigan-Wisconsin
2/11
CBS
1:00-3:15pm
1.1
1,732
"NBA Countdown"
2/10
ABC
8:00-8:31pm
1.1
1,589
Liga MX: Tigres UANL-Club America
2/10
Univision
7:55-10:02pm
0.8
1,479
Westminster Dog Show
2/11
Fox
2:00-4:30pm
0.9
1,461
"NBA Countdown"
2/11
ABC
3:00-3:31pm
1.0
1,448
Liga MX: Chivas-Santos Laguna
2/10
Univision
10:02pm-12:03am
0.7
1,360
"Pebble Beach Million Dollar
Hole-In-One Challenge"
2/11
CBS
12:00-12:30pm
0.9
1,286
College basketball: Kansas-Baylor
2/10
CBS
2:00-4:00pm
0.8
1,201
EPL: Leicester-Manchester City
2/10
NBC
12:30-2:30pm
0.8
1,127
College basketball: Butler-Villanova
2/10
Fox
12:00-2:15pm
0.8
1,063
College basketball:
Florida-South Carolina
2/10
CBS
12:00-2:00pm
0.7
888
College basketball: Xavier-Creighton
2/10
Fox
2:45-4:45pm
0.5
688
"X Games Aspen Anthology"
2/10
ABC
3:00-5:00pm
0.4
491
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Audience Analysis

In San Jose, Jon Wilner noted Pac-12 Networks' basketball studio show "will broadcast live from the conference tournament in Las Vegas" March 7-10, and it was Pac-12 Nets President Mark Shuken who recognized the "need to move the shows" to the city. The change "lends legitimacy to the networks, makes for a better overall product and sends a message that men’s basketball is a priority." Wilner: "That hasn’t always been clear in the past" (MERCURYNEWS.com, 2/15).

HELLO FRIENDS: The AP reported Fox Sports this season "will again use a lineup of NASCAR drivers as analysts for a race." Working the April 28 Xfinity Series race at Talladega Superspeedway will be Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney, Erik Jones, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Brad Keselowski and Bubba Wallace Jr. All but Keselowski and Wallace were "part of the driver crew that called last year's Xfinity race at Pocono Raceway" (AP, 2/15).

GETTING REACQUAINTED: WME-IMG co-President Mark Shapiro said conversations to renew UFC's domestic TV deal are "ongoing." Shapiro: "It’s up at the end of this year. The window’s now open, we’re talking to any and all platforms, and we’re still talking to Fox which has been a tremendous partner. I think we’ll have something to announce in the next few months." Meanwhile, VARIETY's Cynthia Littleton noted IMG Original Content has "become a hub in Endeavor’s effort to diversify through the ownership" of UFC, PBR and other properties. The production operation "works with each of the brands to develop TV properties, and with the Endeavor Global Marketing wing to recruit sponsors and branded content opportunities" (VARIETY.com, 2/13).