Press Release

Posted by Michael Humes on March 14, 2014

Men’s College Basketball: ESPN’s Most-Viewed and Highest-Rated Regular Season Ever

PRINT VERSIONFILED IN: Basketball, College Basketball - Men's TAGGED:

  • ESPN TV Networks’ 586 Games Averages More Than 500,000 Viewers
  • ESPN Televises its Third Most-Viewed Regular-Season Game and Second Most-Viewed Non-Conference Game
  • Louisville makes it a Dozen Straight

ESPN’s industry-leading coverage of the men’s 2013-14 college basketball regular season was the network’s most-viewed and highest-rated ever, averaging 1,454,000 viewers and a 1.0 HH US rating. It marks the third consecutive year ESPN has set a viewership record for its game telecasts, surpassing the past two seasons by 6 percent (vs. 1,370,000 viewers in 2012-13) and 7 percent (vs. 1,353,000 in 2011-12). The 1.0 average HH US rating is up 11 percent over the 0.9 HH US rating ESPN averaged for 2011-12 and 2012-13.

For the season, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU combined to televise 586 games exclusively – the most extensive coverage on television and more than every other network combined – averaging 501,000 total viewers. Overall, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU combined to reach more than 120,876,000 viewers for game telecasts.

Millions of fans turned to ESPN’s digital platforms for college basketball content throughout the season with 4,500,000 unique devices, a 36 percent increase over last season, viewing nearly 1,400 live games on WatchESPN and ESPN3. Additionally, there were 152,000,000 college basketball video starts this season across ESPN.com, the ESPN mobile Web and SportsCenter app, up 40 percent.

Fans were highly engaged with ESPN on social platforms during the season as well, accounting for more than 85 percent of the total college basketball social TV conversation.

ESPN’s Third Most-Viewed Regular-Season & Second Most-Viewed Non-Conference Games
The ESPN Saturday Primetime Driven by State Farm telecast of then-No. 2 Syracuse defeating then-No. 17 Duke 91-89 in overtime on February 1 is the network’s third most-viewed regular-season men’s college basketball game on record (1991-92 season), averaging 4,745,000 viewers (based on a 2.9 HH US rating which peaked at a 4.4). ESPN’s top two most-viewed men’s hoops games were also part of the Saturday Primetime series and occurred in the 2007-08 season: Tennessee at Memphis on February 23 (5,281,000 viewers) and North Carolina at Duke on March 8 (5,612,000 viewers). The matchup generated 5,600,000 minutes of live viewing on WatchESPN, making it the platform’s top men’s college basketball game ever in total minutes viewed.

In addition, ESPN’s coverage of then-No. 2 Michigan State defeating then-No. 1 Kentucky in the State Farm Champions Classic averaged 4,002,000 viewers and a 2.6 HH US rating, making it the network’s second most-viewed non-conference game ever. 

Louisville Makes it a Dozen Straight
For the 12th consecutive year, Louisville was the highest-rated metered market for ESPN’s regular-season telecasts, averaging a 4.5 rating. Greensboro, Kansas City and Raleigh-Durham finished tied for second with a 2.8 rating. It marks the third straight year Greensboro has ended the season in the second spot. The remaining top 10 is Memphis (2.6), Columbus (2.0), Cincinnati (1.9), Knoxville (1.9), Dayton (1.9) and Indianapolis (1.8). In addition:

  • Eight of last season’s top 10 metered markets finished the 2013-14 season among the top 10 again with Charlotte and Nashville falling out (tied at 11th with a 1.7 rating).
  • Memphis made the biggest year-to-year jump in the standings, moving from 14th to fifth by doubling its rating from a 1.3 to a 2.6.
  • Three of Ohio’s four metered markets finished in the top nine: Columbus at sixth with a 2.0 rating, and Cincinnati and Dayton tied for seventh with a 1.9 rating.

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