ESPN’s Best January in Seven Years in Prime, Leads Cable by Far

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ESPN’s Best January in Seven Years in Prime, Leads Cable by Far

Studio Shows Shine as Fans Seek Best Analysis, Highlights and Discussion in Sports 

College Football, NFL, Men’s and Women’s College Basketball, NBA, NHL and Australian Open Contribute to Strong Performance  

Getting out of the gate quickly in 2022, ESPN posted its strongest January in seven years in prime time, leading cable television in delivery of viewers (P2+) and in the key P18-49 demo, as well as for that demo in total day viewership, all by wide margins.  In addition, several weekday studio shows enjoyed their most-viewed month in up to five years.  Of course, the year began with strong performances from cable television’s annually most-watched three programs – the College Football Playoff Semifinals and Championship – and Monday Night Football including the inaugural Week 18 doubleheader and the first MNF Wildcard Playoff Game.    

Against the Cable Competition 

For ESPN in prime time, it was the most-viewed month in seven years, since January 2015, averaging 3.7M viewers (P2+) to top the cable television rankings, 67% more than second-place Fox News Channel.  Among P18-49, ESPN averaged 1.3M viewers, its highest since December 2019, fully 365% ahead of second-place TNT.  

With its best month among P18-49 since December 2019, ESPN led cable networks in total day, averaging 470K viewers, just more than triple the next best network, TBS.  Among all viewers, ESPN ranked second with 1.3M viewers, its best month in exactly five years (since January 2017), just behind FNC’s 1.4M.  

Studio Show Success 

Numerous ESPN studio shows garnered an audience in January unseen in up to five years or more.  January was:   

  • NFL Live’s best month since September 2016 (over five years). 
  • Around the Horns best month since January 2017 (five years). 
  • This Just Ins best month ever.  
  • First Take’s best month since December 2019.  
  • The 12 – 1 p.m. ET SportsCenter’s best month since December 2019. It was up 28% vs. last year and up 10% over 2020. 
  • The 1 a.m. SportsCenter’s best month since December 2019. It was up 31% from last year and up 1% over 2020. 
  • The weekend morning SportsCenter editions’ best month since January 2020. 
  • Pardon the Interruption’s best month since January 2020.  
  • Get Up‘s second-most-viewed month ever (behind only November 2021). 

Their success helped lead ESPN to an average of 1.1M viewers for 7 a.m. – 7 p.m., the network’s best since January 2017 and the best of all cable networks in the P18-49 category, more than double No. 2-TBS.  In total viewers, ESPN was second, behind only FNC.  

Event Programming Contributes to Strength of ESPN’s January 

After the football season, for the rest of January other sports continued to make it a memorable month for ESPN.  These included select strong audiences for Men’s and Women’s College Basketball, NBA, NHL and the Australian Open Men’s Championship.  

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Dave Nagle

As I write this on 11-11-21, it's now 35 years for me at ESPN, the only real job I’ve ever had. I joined merely to help with the America’s Cup for three months at all of $5.50 per hour. I like to say I simply kept showing up. I’ve worked on almost every sport, plus answered viewer calls and letters (people used to write!), given tours, written the company newsletter and once drove NASCAR’s Jeff Gordon to the local airport. My travels have been varied…I’ve been to Martinsville, Darlington, Indy and Super Bowls; the America’s Cup (all 3) in San Diego and College GameDay in the sport’s meccas such as Eugene, Auburn, Lubbock, Stillwater and more; the NBA Finals, Wimbledon (16 times and counting) and the “other Bristol,” the one with a race track in Tennessee. These days, my main areas are tennis, UFC, boxing, ratings, and corporate communications documents, including more than 30 of the Year in Review press releases.
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