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Volume 26 No. 231

Media

NFL viewership in Week 1 was up 5% compared to the opening games in '18 despite many lopsided scores in some marquee windows. Fox featured Giants-Cowboys in the NFL national window in Week 1, and the 23.9 million viewers for the telecast marks the best audience for anything on TV since the Oscars back in late February. "Fox NFL Sunday" also averaged 5.2 million viewers, the pregame show's best start since '16. "Fox NFL Kickoff" in the 11:00am ET window averaged 1.43 million viewers, the show's best start yet. Meanwhile, NBC, which had Packers-Bears in the NFL Kickoff game and Steelers-Patriots in the opening "SNF" telecast, averaged a total audience delivery of 22.7 million viewers for the two games, up 8% from last season's Week 1 doubleheader. Included in those numbers was an average minute audience of 523,000 viewers on NBC digital platforms for Steelers-Pats, marking the best streaming figure yet for an "SNF" telecast. With CBS airing two blowouts to half the country in its singleheader -- Titans-Browns and Chiefs-Jaguars -- the net was down 10% compared to Week 1 last season, when the net aired a competitive Patriots-Texans game. ESPN had its best Week 1 "MNF" doubleheader since '15. The Saints' comeback win against the Texans averaged 13.08 million viewers, up 27% from Lions-Jets last year. In the late game, Broncos-Raiders drew 10.62 million viewers, up 11% from Rams-Raiders last year. 

The NFL has renewed its deal with Facebook through the '20 season, expanding further beyond its roots of in game highlights into new content ideas. Along with continuing the highlights, the deal calls for the NFL to create Facebook Groups for fans interested in particular content themes and post relevant video content there. The league also will host a weekly “Watch Party” around a game recap -- a live event built around game highlights where fans can analyze, debate and relive the prior weekend’s games together in real time. Facebook and the NFL first signed a content deal in '17. Since last year, consumption of the game recaps grew 30%, and the social media giant expects that trend to continue. Facebook believes the NFL is a crucial component to its further growth as a video streaming site, and the NFL has used Facebook to grow fandom in new markets such as Germany and the U.K. “Everyone knows the NFL is a core component of Americana,” said Facebook Head of League & Media Sports Partnerships Rob Shaw. The league will provide clips of NFL Network-produced news and analysis, video versions of NFL posts, “Around the NFL” and “Move the Sticks,” archived NFL Films content centered around the league’s 100th season.

The NFL has "tapped YouTube as the exclusive distributor for its latest media project: a docu-series highlighting pivotal" gameday moments of players and coaches "both on and off the field," according to Todd Spangler of VARIETY. Produced by NFL Films, the "NFL Game Day All-Access" original series will "combine game footage, behind-the-scenes clips and wired sound to tell the game-day stories from players and coaches' perspectives" from the '19 season. The 22-episode weekly show launched yesterday, and is "streaming for free exclusively on the NFL's YouTube channel." Each 20-minute episode will "focus on a different player or coach, following them over the course of the day." In addition to "first-person sound and video," the docu-series will "include audio from teammates, broadcast talent and others." The first episode "features wired sound" from Seahawks QB Russell Wilson, Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury, Browns coach Freddie Kitchens, Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians, and Jaguars DE Calais Campbell. The NFL "launched its official YouTube channel" in '15 and "currently has about 5 million subscribers" (VARIETY.com, 9/11).

Some fans using major TV distributors may be in danger of missing Nuggets games on Alitude this season
Photo: NBAE/GETTY IMAGES
Some fans using major TV distributors may be in danger of missing Nuggets games on Alitude this season
Photo: NBAE/GETTY IMAGES
Some fans using major TV distributors may be in danger of missing Nuggets games on Alitude this season
Photo: NBAE/GETTY IMAGES

Altitude Sports execs are "looking at other options to televise Nuggets, Avalanche and their other teams' games" amid an ongoing carriage dispute between the network and its big three distributors -- Comcast, DirecTV and Dish -- and "one possible solution" is a partnership with Amazon, according to Mike Singer of the DENVER POST. Kroenke Sports & Entertainment President & CEO Jim Martin said of a potential Amazon deal, "We are exploring it. How viable it is and what their level of interest is, we don't know at this point, but we are interested in looking into that. We've had no direct conversations with them." Amazon was part of the investment group that recently bought YES Network, and "forward-thinking sports network executives are already considering pairing with Amazon due to the potential for streaming capability." Altitude last week "released a statement that doused cold water on the streaming option." Singer: "But a partnership with Amazon similar to what YES just agreed to? Possibly." The "current state of negotiations between Altitude Sports and The Big Three ... isn't encouraging for fans." The two sides "remain far apart, with Altitude proposing a slight decrease in annual carriage rates and the distributors insisting on cutting their fees in half." Despite an "aggressive social media campaign to steer public opinion in favor" of KSE Founder Stan Kroenke's RSN, the distributors "haven't budged" with less than a month before the Avalanche's regular season begins (DENVER POST, 9/7).

Carlin's contract was due to expire at the end of the year and his option was not going to be picked up
Photo: CHRIS CARLIN
Carlin's contract was due to expire at the end of the year and his option was not going to be picked up
Photo: CHRIS CARLIN
Carlin's contract was due to expire at the end of the year and his option was not going to be picked up
Photo: CHRIS CARLIN

WFAN's Chris Carlin has made an "abrupt departure" from the N.Y. sports radio station after having been there less than two years, according to Neil Best of NEWSDAY. Carlin yesterday "declined to comment on the timing of the move and whether it was his decision for him to leave immediately or the station's." His contract was "due to expire at the end of the year, and he already had been told that his option under the existing contract terms would not be picked up." However, until this week, it "appeared the station might let things ride until December." Today marks the "start of the autumn ratings book." An Entercom spokesperson said that Carlin's partners, Maggie Gray and Bart Scott, "will continue" in the 1:00-3:00pm ET time slot for now. Carlin, Gray and Scott came to WFAN to "succeed Mike Francesa in afternoon drive time, but four months after leaving the station, Francesa returned, displacing the show known as 'CMB.'" Since then, it "widely has been assumed" that by late '19 the station would "alter a roster that had it paying eight hosts over four shows" from 6:00am-6:30pm (NEWSDAY, 9/12). In N.Y., Andrew Marchand cites sources as saying that Gray and Scott are "expected to remain with WFAN for the rest of this year and beyond." Carlin has had a "pattern of success in his career," but had a "falling out with Francesa" (N.Y. POST, 9/12).

TWITTER REAX: Carlin received some kind words, both from WFAN colleagues and other voices. Maggie Gray: "Working with Chris Carlin has been as fun behind the scenes as it was behind the mic. Chris has been our rock, and as talented as he is as a broadcaster, he’s an even better friend, with an incredible heart." WFAN's Sweeny Murti: "His next landing spot is getting a winner." NBC Sports' Peter King: "You are the best, @ChrisCarlin." Loud Communications President Lou D'Ermilio: "Well, this news stinks. Good luck, Chris. CMB was a breath of fresh air!" CBS Sports' Adam Schein: "Illogical. Terrible loss for NYC & WFAN. You don’t make em better than Chris Carlin." Upstate Courier's Leslie Monteiro: "He deserved better from WFAN. The man worked his tail off."

The combination of runs by Serena Williams and Coco Gauff on the women's side and Rafael Nadal's dramatic five-set win in the men's final helped deliver ESPN its best audience yet for the U.S. Open since it began exclusively airing the event in '15. ESPN networks for the entire tournament averaged 1.28 million viewers, up 23% from '18 (1.04 million). Bianca Andreescu's straight sets win over Williams on Saturday afternoon drew 3.22 million viewers, marking ESPN's second-best U.S. Open final on record. Only the four-set Novak Djokovic-Roger Federer final in '15 drew a larger audience. Naomi Osaka's win over Williams in the '18 final drew 3.1 million viewers. Meanwhile, Nadal's win over Daniil Medvedev on Sunday, which bled well into primetime, drew 2.75 million viewers, up from 2.07 million for Djokovic's win over Juan Martin del Potro last year. DC was the best market for coverage of the U.S. Open on ESPN networks, averaging a 2.0 local rating. N.Y. was second with a 1.9.

BOOSTING THE GPA: College football is seeing strong gains on ESPN, up 41% through Week 2. ABC, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPNews are also seeing gains (SEC Network and ACC Network remain unrated). Meanwhile, Fox is having its best start yet for college football. The net drew 4.72 million viewers for Michigan's double OT win over Army on Saturday, giving the network another win in the 12:00pm ET window as the network has shifted its top games each weekend to that window. Overall, Fox is up 59% through Week 2 (five total games).

GOLDEN GOAL: A Mexico-U.S. men's soccer friendly drew 2.68 million viewers on Friday night on Univision and TUDN. That compares to 386,000 on FS1 for the same match. The Univision/TUDN audience marks the fourth-best men's soccer audience of '19, behind only three matches from this summer's Concacaf Gold Cup.

The chart below lists viewership figures for select recent sports telecasts.

TELECAST
DATE
NET
TIME (ET)
RAT.
VIEWERS
(000)
NFL: Giants-Cowboys (86%)
9/8
Fox
4:25-7:45pm
13.5
23,904
NFL Kickoff: Packers-Bears
9/5
NBC
8:23-11:30pm
12.9
22,242
"SNF": Steelers-Patriots
9/8
NBC
8:20-11:00pm
12.6
22,207
NFL: (singleheader)
9/8
CBS
1:05-4:05pm
9.0
15,381
NFL: (regional)
9/8
Fox
1:00-4:15pm
7.4
12,638
College football: LSU-Texas
9/7
ABC
7:37-11:36pm
5.0
8,633
College football: Texas A&M-Clemson
9/7
ABC
3:30-7:00pm
4.0
6,461
"Football Night in America"
9/8
NBC
7:30-8:14pm
3.8
6,447
College football: Notre Dame-Louisville
9/2
ESPN
7:57-11:23pm
3.3
5,599
"Fox NFL Sunday"
9/8
Fox
12:00-1:00pm
3.3
5,202
College football: Army-Michigan
9/7
Fox
12:03-3:45pm
3.1
4,715
College football: Nebraska-Colorado
9/7
Fox
3:45-7:00pm
2.0
3,446
U.S. Open: women's final:
Bianca Andreescu d. Serena Williams
9/7
ESPN
4:00-7:00pm
2.0
3,219
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series:
Big Machine Vodka 400 (Indianapolis)
9/8
NBC
2:15-6:00pm
1.9
2,969
College football: Cincinnati-Ohio State
9/7
ABC
12:00-3:30pm
1.9
2,939
U.S. Open: men's final:
Rafael Nadal d. Daniil Medvedev
9/8
ESPN
4:00-9:12pm
1.6
2,751
Soccer friendly: Mexico-U.S.
9/6
Univision
8:50-11:10pm
1.4
2,684
U.S. Open: men's/women's quarterfinals
9/3
ESPN
7:00-11:48pm
1.4
2,241
College football: Buffalo-Penn State
9/7
Fox
7:31-10:55pm
1.3
2,167
U.S. Open: women's semifinals
9/5
ESPN
7:00-11:15pm
1.2
1,866
College football: Stanford-USC
9/7
ESPN
10:42pm-1:51pm
1.2
1,857
"College GameDay"
9/7
ESPN
9:00am-12:01pm
n/a
1,849
U.S. Open: round of 16
9/2
ESPN2
7:00pm-12:55am
1.1
1,748
U.S. Open: men's/women's quarterfinals
9/4
ESPN
7:00pm-12:41am
1.1
1,720
"Sunday NFL Countdown"
9/8
ESPN
10:00am-1:00pm
n/a
1,626
"Fox NFL Kickoff"
9/8
Fox
11:00am-12:00pm
1.0
1,426
NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing:
Chevy Performance U.S. Nationals (Indianapolis)
9/2
Fox
1:00-4:45pm
0.6
950
Track & Field: IAAF Diamond League (taped)
9/7
NBC
3:00-4:30pm
0.6
809
"Big Noon Kickoff"
9/7
Fox
11:00am-12:00pm
n/a
769
Horse racing: Jockey Club Derby (Belmont)
9/7
NBC
4:30-6:00pm
0.6
768
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Audience Analysis