Ratings roundup – UFC and Wimbledon benefited from broadcast TV exposure; Formula 1 recorded record viewership for the British Grand Prix and topped NASCAR in key demos.
UFC return to primetime TV hits fever pitch
The UFC 276 prelims averaged a combined 0.95 rating and 1.80 million viewers on ABC and ESPN last Saturday night, marking the series’ highest viewership on linear TV since its ESPN debut. in January 2018 (1.96 million). The previous high over that span was 1.77 million for the UFC 246 prelims on ESPN just two years ago, which preceded Conor McGregor‘s return after a long hiatus.
Broken down by network, ABC averaged 0.54 and 929,000 viewers and ESPN averaged 0.41 and 871,000. It was the first primetime UFC event to air on television since the last edition of the UFC on FOX in December 2017 (1.82 million).
Wimbledon viewership rises as live play returns to TV
Wimbledon coverage averaged 619,000 viewers through Monday, up 41% from a year ago. Keep in mind that ABC aired six hours of coverage over the weekend, the first time the live game of Wimbledon has aired on television since NBC last owned the rights in 2011. On Sunday, the two most watched windows of the tournament.
ESPN coverage on Monday – a holiday – averaged 1.04 million. According to ESPN, this represents a 130% increase from the equivalent day last year. Additional coverage on ESPN2 averaged 220,000.
Quarter-final coverage averaged 678,000 on ESPN on Tuesday and 863,000 on Wednesday, with ESPN2 reaching 198,000 and 160,000 respectively. These numbers are not included in the tournament average mentioned above.
British F1 GP peaks and overtakes NASCAR in key demos
Formula 1’s British Grand Prix averaged 1.24 million viewers on ESPN2 last weekend, the biggest viewership ever for the race and the biggest F1 viewership ever seen on ESPN2. Carlos Sainz Jr.’s victory, which peaked with 1.5 million viewers, was up 18% from last year’s edition of the race (1.05 million).
F1 races now average 1.3 million viewers on ESPN networks, up 37% from the same point last year (961K).
Notably, F1 racing on ESPN2 easily topped same-day NASCAR Cup Series coverage on USA Network across all key young adult demographics – gaining 69% in 18-49 (0.49 to 0.29 ), 158% in 18-34 (0.49 to 0.19) and 16% among 25-54 year olds (0.50 to 0.43). Only in adults over 50 did NASCAR have the edge, winning that head-to-head by 178% (1.28 to 0.46).
Overall, NASCAR has consistently won the head-to-head viewership by 36% (1.93M to 1.24M).
NASCAR’s U.S. debut follows NBCSN races last year
Road America’s aforementioned NASCAR Cup Series race averaged 1.15 and 1.93 million viewers on USA Network, down 9% in viewership and 11% in viewership from last season’s average for races on NBCSN (1.3, 2.2M). Last year, the Road America race aired on the NBC broadcast network and drew a 1.8 rating with more than three million viewers. Sunday’s HUT levels were down 22% from NBC’s cable opener last season.