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Volume 25 No. 172
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Audience Rises For College Hoops Regular Season, With ESPN Up 15%

College basketball viewership was up 5% for the ’18-19 regular season across what are considered to be the sport’s primary TV partners -- ESPN, CBS, Fox, FS1 and ESPN2. Fueling gains was a big increase for ESPN this season. For 129 games on the flagship net, viewership jumped 15% to 1.2 million viewers per game (1.04 million for 127 games in ’17-18). Duke and freshman phenom Zion Williamson were a major reason for the jump, as games on ESPN featuring the Blue Devils averaged 2.14 million viewers. That is up 30% from ’17-18. Even without those Duke games, ESPN was up 6%. Combining ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU, men’s hoops were up 6% this season as well. Meanwhile, Fox/FS1 continued to set new records for the company, and this year marked the fifth straight season of growth. The two networks combined to average 269,000 viewers, a new record and up from previous record of 258,000 viewers in ’17-18. On its own, Fox drew 894,000 viewers for its 28 games, up 3% from 867,000 last season (26 games). FS1 for its games was up 19%. Seeing a decline for the second straight season was CBS, whose 1.54 million viewers for 35 games was down 6% from 1.65 million last season (39 games). But CBS was still the top net for college hoops this season in terms of average viewership.

MEN'S COLLEGE BASKETBALL REGULAR-SEASON VIEWERSHIP
NETWORK
'18-19 (000)
'17-18 (000)
'16-17 (000)
CBS
1,540
1,645
1,688
ESPN
1,199
1,042
1,200
Fox
894
867
750
ESPN2
330
328
360
FS1
171
144
128
ESPNU
86
104
104
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College basketball regular season viewership