Tuesday, May 19, 2020

TV Ratings: Live Sports Grabs Strong Ratings

The first live sports events on network TV in more than two months delivered strong ratings Sunday, with Fox’s telecast of NASCAR’s race from Darlington, S.C, drawing 6.32 million viewers and NBC’s PGA Tour charity Skins game, The TaylorMade Driving Relief, attracting 2.35 million viewers, the Boston Globe reports.

In both instances, the live events were staged with no fans in attendance, limited television crew, and strict social distancing guidelines and protocols in place. Announcers called the action from remote locations.
  • Fox’s telecast of NASCAR’s first live race in 10 weeks, won by Kevin Harvick, represented a 38 percent jump over the previous race March 8 before the series, much like other pro sports leagues, was brought to a halt in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic. 
  • NBC’s live golf match, during which the professionals caddied for themselves, featured a four-man skins match, featuring Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff from Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach, Fla. McIlroy won a closest-to-the-pin playoff worth six skins valued at $1.1 million as he and Johnson defeated Fowler and Wolff. More than $5.5 million was raised for COVID-19 relief funds. 
The two events were the first live sports telecasts on a broadcast network since March. ESPN has aired UFC events in recent weeks, and Professional Bull Riders returned in late April with an event on CBS Sports Network.

Also,  ESPN’s 10-part docuseries on Michael Jordan’s last run with the Chicago Bulls for a sixth NBA championship, “The Last Dance,” finished strong for its finale, with episodes 9 and 10 averaging 5.6 million viewers across ESPN and ESPN2. Episode 9 averaged 5.9 million viewers, up 10 percent from last Sunday, becoming the third most watched episode of the series, trailing the record-breaking audiences of episodes 1 and 3. Episode 10 averaged 5.4 million viewers, up 9.8 percent from last week’s episode 8.

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