As ESPN heads towards the final quarter of the calendar year – traditionally its strongest with a schedule full of NFL and college football games and studio programming, plus the start of NBA and college basketball – the network is riding a wave of momentum with viewership up 13 percent (an increase of 138,000 viewers in the average minute) in the last month, according to Nielsen.
Since August 17, ESPN has averaged 1,217,000 viewers (P2+) on a 24-hour basis, up 13 percent compared to the same four weeks a year ago (1,079,000).
In prime time, the network has enjoyed even stronger growth during this time span, rising 20 percent over 2012 with an average of 2,894,000 viewers (2,417,000 last year).
Highlights of the last month:
- On September 7, ESPN registered its most-viewed regular-season college football Saturday in ESPN history, an average of 5.5 million fans across 15 hours of programming, highlighted by a 5.3 rating for Notre Dame vs. Michigan, the night’s most-viewed program across all cable and broadcast networks among total viewers and key male and adult demographics (18-34, 18-49 and 25-54).
- The September 9 Philadelphia Eagles – Washington Redskins game was the highest-rated Monday Night Football opener since ESPN took over the iconic franchise in 2006 (10.1).
- The August 18 edition of Sunday Night Baseball – the New York Yankees vs. the Boston Red Sox, earned a 2.1 rating, the highest on the season.
- The soccer game on September 10 between the U.S. Men’s National Team and Mexico tied the ESPN record for a World Cup Qualifying telecast (1.4).
- The football season brings with it a number of popular studio shows. The weekday NFL Live is up 10 percent from a year ago (688,000 viewers vs. 624,000), the new weekday NFL Insiders is posting viewership 27 percent larger than the time slot did in 2012 (516,000 vs. 405,000), and the expanded Saturday morning College GameDay is averaging 20 percent more audience for 9 a.m. – Noon ET than those three hours averaged last year (1,956,000 vs. 1,631,000).