Annual State Farm Champions Classic Posts Strong Numbers for ESPN and WatchESPN

BasketballCollege Basketball - Men's

Annual State Farm Champions Classic Posts Strong Numbers for ESPN and WatchESPN

WatchESPN Nets Most-Watched College Basketball Game to Date
College Football Playoff: Top 25 Earns Best Viewership and Rating in Show History

ESPN’s coverage of No. 2 Kentucky’s 74-63 win over No. 5 Duke as part of the annual State Farm Champions Classic on Tuesday, Nov. 17, averaged 3,120,000 viewers, marking the second most watched Champions Classic game behind the 2013 Michigan State-Kentucky contest (4,002,000 viewers). The Champions Classic, in its fifth year, annually pits Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and Michigan State against each other in the neutral-site, early-season men’s doubleheader.

The Kentucky-Duke game was WatchESPN’s most-watched college basketball game ever, attracting an additional 78,000 average minute impressions to the TV audience, 268,000 total unique viewers and 10,300,000 live minutes viewed – up 39 percent, 22 percent and 12 percent, respectively compared to the previous high (UNC-Duke on Feb. 18, 2015). Overall, the two Champions Classic games attracted 62,000 average minute impressions, up 83 percent compared to last year.

The doubleheader – which also included No. 13 Michigan State’s 79-73 victory over No. 4 Kansas from the United Center in Chicago – averaged 2,485,000 viewers.

This year’s contests were the culmination of ESPN’s eighth annual Tip-Off Marathon presented by Constant Contact – which saw a 6% viewership increase over 2014 (595,000 vs. 560,000). The Marathon consisted of with 31 hours of continuous game and studio action from Monday, Nov. 16 through Tuesday, Nov. 17.

The Champions Classic is owned and operated by ESPN Events, a division of ESPN.

ESPN Unveiled College Football Playoff: Top 25 Live from Chicago
In between the Champions Classic doubleheader, the latest College Football Playoff committee rankings were exclusively unveiled live onsite during College Football Playoff: Top 25. The 30-minute special averaged 3,033,000 viewers and a 1.9 HH rating, garnering the best numbers on record. (14 episodes includes four where College Football Playoff rankings were not unveiled)

Champions Classic Top-10 Metered Markets
Six markets were among the top-10 highest rated markets for both games of the Champions Classic doubleheader: Cincinnati, Dayton, Kansas City, Knoxville, Louisville and Memphis.

  • Louisville led all markets for coverage of Kentucky’s win over Duke with a 20.3 rating followed by Raleigh-Durham (9.3), Greensboro (7.8), Cincinnati (7.0), Greenville (5.1), Knoxville (5.0), Dayton (4.9), Kansas City (4.8), Charlotte (4.7) and Memphis (4.7).
  • Kansas City was the highest-rated market for Michigan State’s win over Kansas with an 8.2 rating followed by Louisville (3.6), Detroit (3.2), Birmingham (2.7), Cincinnati (2.1), Dayton (2.1), Richmond (2.0). Knoxville (1.9), Memphis (1.9), Las Vegas (1.8) and Nashville (1.8).

Men’s College Basketball: Early-Season Tournaments Tip-Off
ESPN’s men’s basketball schedule continues during Feast Week presented by Lowe’s – highlighted by several tournaments beginning Thursday, Nov. 19, and continuing through the Thanksgiving holiday weekend: Puerto Rico Tip-Off, Gildan Charleston Classic, 2K Classic, Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off, Maui Jim Maui Invitational, FanDuel Legends Classic and CBE Hall of Fame Classic.

Ranked teams in action include: No. 1 North Carolina, No. 2 Kentucky, No. 4 Kansas, No. 5 Duke, No. 6 Virginia, No. 13 Michigan State, No. 14 Indiana, No. 16 Utah, No. 17 Vanderbilt, No. 18 Notre Dame, No. 21 Purdue, No. 22 Butler and No. 23 LSU. Full schedule of week’s game (Wednesday-Tuesday)

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Rachel Margolis Siegal

A part of the Internal Communications team at ESPN, I began with the network in 2010 as part of the College Sports PR team. Always an avid sports fan and not an athlete – I grew up a huge fan of the Hartford Whalers, while also watching my brother compete at different levels. I became the manager of several high school sports teams and continued that hobby into college. While at Quinnipiac, I worked in the Sports Information Department, which led me to a summer internship at the New Haven Ravens, a AA baseball team, and an eventual job with the Athletic Communications Department at the University of Connecticut. After my five-year stint at Connecticut, I spent six years as Director of Communications at the BIG EAST Conference in Providence, R.I. before joining ESPN.
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