2015 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships Finals Sees Significant Growth in Viewership and Digital Consumption
ESPN's Television Audience Grows 10%, WatchESPN Up 150%
The 2015 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships Finals on Saturday, March 21, averaged 694,000 viewers on ESPN with an additional 1.6 million minutes consumed on WatchESPN, a 10% increase in television viewers (630,000) and 148% increase in WatchESPN consumption (644,000) over the 2014 Championship Finals -- also shown on ESPN in prime time. Additionally, WatchESPN more than doubled its total unique viewers during this year's Championship Finals when compared to last year.
Oklahoma City was the highest-rated market for Saturday night's wrestling finale, followed by Tulsa, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Columbus, Detroit, Kansas City, Cleveland, Baltimore, Norfolk, and St. Louis.
Oklahoma City was also the highest-rated market overall for the 2015 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships (March 19-21), making it the second time in three years (2013) it has been the highest-rated market for the Championships. Interestingly, Tulsa was the highest-rated market in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2014, making the state of Oklahoma the hotbed for the Championships over the last six years.
Overall, ESPN's complete coverage of the 2015 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships averaged 256,000 viewers across six sessions (first, second, quarterfinals and medal rounds on ESPNU and semifinals, finals on ESPN), an increase over the 2014 Championship, which featured the same television schedule (253,000 viewers). Additionally, "every mat, every match" coverage on ESPN3 combined with live access to ESPN and ESPNU on WatchESPN resulted in more than 21.3 million minutes viewed throughout the three days, a 67% increase over last year's same coverage (12.7 million minutes consumed).
ESPN began covering the NCAA Wrestling Division I Championships in 1980. Live telecasts of the championship finals began in 2004 and preliminary round telecasts began in 2005. Since 2011, ESPN has provided live coverage of all six sessions, including television coverage in 2014 and 2015.