Ratings Roundup: Stanley Cup Playoffs on Pace To Be Most Watched on Record; Fox’s Survival Sunday Hits Record High
By: Jason Dachman, Managing Editor
Thursday, May 17, 2012 - 9:42 am

NBC Sports Group’s ‘Every Game, Every Night’ coverage model has worked gangbusters during the first two rounds of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, which are averaging 1.06 million viewers, the largest audience for the first two rounds on record (since 1994, when cable program data started). More than 39 million total viewers have watched the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs on NBC, NBC Sports Network and CNBC, up 23% vs. last year (32.2). The 2012 Conference Semifinals averaged 1.32 million viewers, also the most-watched on record. In addition the round averaged 1.29 million viewers on the NBC Sports Network, up 43% over last year and the best on record for a single cable network…

…Fox Sports Media Group’s (FSMG) all-encompassing coverage of the Barclays Premier League Survival Sunday last weekend – in which nine of the day’s 10 matches were carried across eight FSMG networks – was  a rousing success, as 1.35 million viewers tuned in for the English language (FX, SPEED, FOX Soccer, FSN, FUEL TV and ESPN2) and Spanish language (FOX Deportes and ESPN Deportes) telecasts. That is up 72% over the combined viewing on FOX Soccer, FOX Deportes, ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes last year (728,000).

The English language audience on the FOX-outlets (392,000) and ESPN2 (600,000) combined for 992,000 viewers, up 80% over the combined viewing on ESPN2 and FOX Soccer a year ago (550,000). English-language viewership on FOX outlets (392,000) was up 160% vs. 2011. FOX Deportes recorded 167,000 viewers Sunday, up 120% over a year ago (76,000). ESPN Deportes drew 189,000 viewers. Unique visitors to FOXSoccer.com on Sunday were 420,000, up 278% from last Survival Sunday (111,000), while +FOXSoccer.com and FOX Soccer 2Go combined for 41,522 live video streams…

…NBC’s coverage of the The Players Championship drew its largest audience in three years, with average weekend viewers topping 4 million (up 21% over last year). Meanwhile Golf Channel’s week-long coverage of The Players was the highest-rated and most-watched week ever for the tournament at TPC Sawgrass. Average ratings (.17) and viewers (171,000) for the week both were 15% higher than the previously high marks for each category in 2007 and 2010, respectively, and 38 and 44% higher than last year.

In addition, Friday’s Round Two (1.8 rating and 1.8 million viewers) on Golf Channel was the most-watched of any early round for this tournament on record (1995-2012) and was up 5% over last year.

So far this year, both Golf Channel (up 18%) and NBC (up 32%) are both riding a ratings wave for golf, with two-year increases up 62% for Golf Channel and 38% for NBC…

…The first round of the NBA Playoffs failed to live up to last year, as 26 of 36 NBA playoff telecasts on ESPN/ABC and TNT suffered declines in viewership. However, the first round did end on a high note, as Game 7 of the Nuggets/Lakers series drew 6.464 million viewers on TNT Saturday night making it the second-most viewed first round NBA playoff game ever on cable, trailing only Bulls/Celtics Game 7 in 2009 (6.987M).

Here is look at the ratings thus far for the four second-round NBA Playoff series:

  • Game 2 of the Pacers/Heat second round NBA playoff series drew 4.457 million viewers on TNT Tuesday night, down 26% from Celtics/Heat Game 2 last year (6.006M), but up 50% from Hawks/Magic Game 1 in 2010 (2.977). Preliminary overnight ratings for Sunday’s Game 1 on ABC were also down 26% compared to last year’s Celtics/Heat series.
  • Game 1 of the Clippers/Spurs series on TNT on Tuesday drew 5.040 million viewers, up 4% from Grizzlies/Thunder Game 2 last year (4.867M), and up 8% from Jazz/Lakers Game 2 in 2010 (4.668M).
  • Game 1 of the Lakers/Thunder second round NBA playoff series drew 6.687 million viewers on TNT Monday night, up 4% from Mavericks/Lakers Game 1 last year (6.429M), and up 63% from Spurs/Suns Game 1 in 2010 (4.110M). The game earned the largest audience of the playoffs on cable, topping Nuggets/Lakers Game 7 two nights earlier (6.464M).
  • Game 2 of the Sixers/Celtics series on Monday night drew 4.016 million viewers, down 28% from Hawks/Bulls Game 1 last year (5.588M), and down 27% from Celtics/Cavaliers Game 2 in 2010 (5.499M).

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