Among Viewers 18-49, ESPN Tops all Cable Networks by Wide Margin
Long List of Studio Shows with Surging Audiences, Every Live Edition of SportsCenter up 9-27%
ESPN’s total day viewership in the first quarter of 2022 was up 32% vs. last year to an average of 812,000 viewers (P2+), the network’s best for the first three months of the year since 2017. The increase was even more pronounced in prime time – up 40% to 2.068M viewers.
In the target demo of adults 18-49, ESPN was up 23% in total day audience and led the second-place network by 74%. In prime time, ESPN’s audience in the demo grew 36% and the advantage was more than double – up 111% – the next closest competitor.
On the strength of the weekday studio show lineup, ESPN averaged 600,000 viewers from 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. ET, up 20% over 2021 and the best since 2017.
- ESPN’s 2022 got off to a hot start 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-ever NFL Wild Card Playoff Game on a Monday night.
- In its first year, the NHL on ESPN averaged an audience 21% larger than last season’s Wednesday night games in the quarter.
- The NBA on ESPN averaged 1.3M viewers, up 9% from a year ago.
- Men’s College Basketball increased its audience 26% vs. the previous season. Champ Week was up 33% on ESPN/ESPN2.
- The last home game for Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski drew an average of 4M viewers and was the most-watched regular-season game on any network in three years.
- Women’s College Basketball soared 45% over last year’s average audience. After two rounds, the NCAA Tournament audience is 15% larger than 2021.
- The Bahrain Grand Prix on March 20 kicked off the 2022 Formula 1 World Championship season and was the most-watched (average of 1.353M) event of the series on cable since 1995 (Grand Prix of Brazil, 1.74M)…until it was topped a week later by the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix (1.445M). Both races aired on ESPN.
- The Australian Open men’s championship was up 56% from the previous year and the most-viewed since 2017.
- Every live edition of ESPN’s flagship program, SportsCenter, was up double digits vs. 2021 (except for the 1 a.m. show which was up 9%). The biggest increases were the 11 p.m. show (up 27%) and the 6 p.m. show (up 20%). The most-watched edition was the midnight program with an average of 550,000 viewers, up 12% from a year ago.
- Weekday afternoon’s NBA Today averaged 311,000 viewers, up 32% from the time slot the previous season. It reached a new all-time high point on Thursday, Feb. 10, with an average of 544,000 viewers.
- NBA Countdown averaged 523,000 viewers, a 29% increase vs. 2021.
- The weekday morning show First Take was up 23% for its best first quarter since 2018. It set a show record for most-viewed show ever on Monday, Jan. 17, with an average of 918,000 people.
- The weekday morning program Get Up enjoyed its best first quarter ever, up 15% from last year. On Monday, Jan. 17, it garnered its biggest audience ever with an average of 658,000 viewers.
- Weekday afternoon’s NFL Live recorded its best first quarter since 2016, up 31% from 2021.
- Around the Horn at 5 p.m. had its best first quarter since 2018, up 25% from a year ago.
- In its 21st year, Pardon the Interruption at 5:30 p.m. was up 12% and is ESPN’s most popular weekday studio show, averaging 728,000 in the quarter.