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College Basketball - Men's

North Carolina at Duke: Most-Watched Game of the Season on TV


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  • 2015-16 Season:
    • ESPN Televises the Four Most-Watched Games Across All Networks
    • WatchESPN Streams its Five Most-Watched Games Ever
    • Louisville is No. 1 Local Market for 14th Consecutive Year

No. 8 North Carolina at No. 17 Duke on Saturday, March 5 (6:30 p.m. on ESPN), averaged 3,174,000 viewers, the most-watched college basketball game on record of the 2015-16 season on TV. Additionally, ESPN’s industry leading college basketball schedule resulted in the four most-watched games of the season on record across all networks:

Rank Average Viewers Game Date
1 3,174,000 North Carolina at Duke March 5, 2016
2 3,120,000 Kentucky vs Duke* November 17, 2015
3 2,984,000 Kentucky at Kansas January 30, 2016
4 2,863,000 Duke at North Carolina February 17, 2016

*State Farm Champions Classic in Chicago

On WatchESPN, the Tar Heels-Blue Devils season finale added 69,000 average minute impressions to the TV audience, with 229,000 viewers watching 8,795,000 minutes, up 46%, 51%, 37%, respectively, from last season’s season finale for the two ACC rivals (March 7, 2015).

Additional 2015-16 Men’s Highlights

  • Big Mondays Presented by Delta: ESPN’s Monday night doubleheader featuring an ACC matchup (7 p.m.) followed by a Big 12 game (9 p.m.) averaged 1,477,000 viewers per game (16 games), up 9% from the 2014-2015 season (16 games). Big Mondays also experienced a 19% increase in rating among men 18-34 demographic.
  • Thursday Night Showcase: ESPN’s Thursday night telecasts which involved ACC, American, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC as  part of a doubleheader (7 p.m. and 9 p.m.) averaged 922,000 viewers per game (17 games), up 10% from the 2014-15 season (17 games).
  • WatchESPN Continues Growth: On WatchESPN, across approximately 1,800 games, average minute impressions are up 66%, unique viewers up 62% and total minutes viewed up 63% from last season, per game**. Additionally,  WatchESPN streamed its five most-watched college basketball games, ever, this season:
Rank Average Audience Game Date
1 78,000 Kentucky vs. Duke* November 17, 2015
2 75,000 Duke at North Carolina February 17, 2016
3 69,000 North Carolina at Duke March 5, 2016
4 67,000 Oklahoma at Kansas January 4, 2016
5 59,000 Kentucky at Kansas January 30, 2016

*State Farm Champions Classic in Chicago

  • Louisville Leads the Way Once Again: ESPN telecasts averaged a 4.9 rating in Louisville, the market’s 14th straight year as the No. 1 market. Raleigh-Durham, the second highest market (2.7), and Kansas City, the third best (2.5), were up from a year ago. The complete top 10 local markets
Rank Rating Market
1 4.9 Louisville
2 2.7 Raleigh-Durham
3 2.5 Kansas City
4 2.5 Greensboro-High Point
5 1.8 Cincinnati
6 1.7 Dayton
7 1.7 Greenville
8 1.6 Indianapolis
9 1.6 Nashville
10 1.5 Memphis


Championship Week Continues
ESPN’s presentation of Championship Week Presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods continues this week with all games from the ACC, American, Big 12 and SEC Championships. ESPN’s Saturday night lineup on March 12 will showcase a doubleheader of marquee title games: the Big 12 at 6 p.m. and the ACC at 9 p.m. The final day of play before the NCAA bracket reveal includes title games from the SEC (1 p.m., ESPN), Sun Belt (1 p.m., ESPN2) and the American (3:15 p.m., ESPN).

ESPN will provide on-site studio coverage from the ACC, Big 12 and SEC Championships, including College GameDay Covered by State Farm (Noon, ESPN) originating from the New York Life ACC Basketball Tournament title game in Washington, D.C., on Saturday.

Please note: Big Monday and Thursday Night Showcase data begins January 1 each season.
**Data as of February 21


Media contact: Derek Volner at 860-384-9986; [email protected] and @DerekVolner