The NHL Draft hit a viewership high in its first year on the main ESPN network. Plus: WNBA viewership is up slightly at the All-Star break; the PGA Tour John Deere Classic hit a viewership high; and more.
NHL Draft hits high in debut on ESPN flagship
Thursday’s first round of the NHL Draft averaged 457,000 viewers on ESPN, the largest audience for the event since at least 2009. The previous high was 374,000 for the 2016 edition on NBCSN. This year marked the first time that the Draft has aired on the flagship ESPN network. Last year’s coverage aired on ESPN2 and averaged north of 268,000 viewers.
Draft coverage ranked third for the day among ESPN programs behind the Wimbledon women’s semifinals (533K) and “Pardon the Interruption” (484K) and ahead of its NBA Summer League lead-out (Rockets-Magic: 248K).
WNBA viewership sees uptick at All-Star break
Entering the All-Star break, WNBA games have averaged 317,000 viewers across the ESPN family of networks — up 5% from the same point last season. Last Sunday’s Washington-Connecticut game averaged 392,000 viewers on ESPN, the most-watched game of the season on cable and the network’s most-watched regular season game in two years. ESPN also drew 305,000 for Phoenix-Chicago the previous day and 285,000 for Phoenix-Los Angeles on Monday.
PGA Tour John Deere Classic hits high
Final round coverage of the PGA Tour John Deere Classic averaged a 1.2 rating and 1.91 million viewers on CBS last Sunday, peaking at 2.50 million — up 23% in ratings and 25% in viewership from last year and the largest audience for the tournament since 2015 (3.37M). The tournament was not played two years ago, but the replacement event at Muirfield Village was considerably higher at a 1.7 and 2.52 million.
Third round action the previous day drew a 1.0 and 1.53 million, the best for third round coverage of the event since ’15 (1.2, 1.70M).
Plus: Hot Dog contest, MLB, SRX, IndyCar
Taped coverage of the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest averaged 1.03 million viewers on ESPN Monday, down double-digits from last year, when coverage aired live (1.35M, pending revision). … Last weekend’s editions of MLB on FOX (1.1, 1.89M) and ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball (Cardinals-Phillies: 0.7, 1.22M) declined from last year, when both windows featured the Mets-Yankees “Subway Series.” In other action, TBS chipped in 267,000 viewers for Rays-Red Sox this past Tuesday and FS1 405,000 for a special Thursday night Padres-Dodgers game June 30. … Last weekend’s edition of the SRX racing series on CBS averaged a 0.6 rating and 975,000 viewers, marking the third-straight race under the million viewer mark. All six races last season had at least one million. … IndyCar Series racing from Mid-Ohio drew a 0.6 and 877,000 on NBC last Sunday, down sharply from last year (0.9, 1.30M).
[Nielsen estimates from ShowBuzz Daily 7.6 a, b, 7.8, network PR]