A Hot July for ESPN: Viewership Rises 18%
ESPN2 also Sees Increase, up 7%
Sunday Night MLB, NBA Summer League and Wimbledon Soar to Lead Increase
SportsCenter, First Take, Get Up Drive Studio Show Growth
ESPN enjoyed a hot July with viewership rising 18% over 2018, from 440,000 to 518,000 on a total day basis, according to Nielsen. This follows a June where ESPN experienced a 5% increase. In addition, ESPN2 was up 7% year over year for the month, from 148,000 to 159,000.
The ESPN increase led to the network leading all of cable for total day in the key male demos - 18-34, 18-49 and 25-54 - and to lead in prime time among men 18-34 and men 18-49. ESPN's overall increase in prime time was 19%, from 745,000 to 883,000 including an increase of 33% for males 12-17.
Key drivers behind July's success were:
· Sunday Night Baseball was up 35% for the month including the most-watched game of the year (New York Yankees at Boston)
· The NBA Summer League also saw a 35% increase on ESPN including the network's most-watched game ever (New Orleans vs. New York)
· ESPN's most-watched Wimbledon ever was up 30% from last year
· Formula One races in July were up 22% including the German Grand Prix which was its most-viewed in cable TV history (records go back to 1994)
· The Home Run Derby was up 4% to an average of 6.2 million viewers
· The Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest was also up 4%
ESPN Studio Shows with Continued Viewership Growth
The positive viewership momentum for ESPN studio shows in recent months continued in July.
First Take led the way with a significant 32 percent increase over 2018 (including shows moved to ESPN2 for Wimbledon), making July the fourth consecutive month of year-over-year growth for the morning debate show. First Take is already off to a strong start in the new Nielsen month of August with Monday's episode - featuring guest host Pro Football Hall of Famer Michael Irvin - seeing a 36 percent increase over last year's comparable show.
The noon ET edition of SportsCenter also climbed in viewership for the third straight month with a 19 percent increase in July from last year's comparable one-hour window. SportsCenter and First Take combined drove ESPN to lead cable across all key male demos on weekdays from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
For the fifth consecutive month, Get Up and the 7 a.m. SportsCenter successfully led off the day's studio programming with monthly viewership increases. Get Up saw double-digit growth of 11 percent from the comparable two-hour window in 2018 with SportsCenter jumping 7 percent from last year. The two shows led ESPN to win cable from 7-10 a.m. among M18-49.
The midnight and 1 a.m. SportsCenter shows also saw increases - 9 percent and 1 percent, respectively. Outside the Lines, for the third consecutive month, saw year-over-year viewership growth, up 7 percent in July over 2018.
The 5-6 p.m. weekday hour on ESPN also enjoyed increases in July. Pardon the Interruption jumped 8 percent, marking the show's fourth consecutive month of growth. Leading off the 5-6 p.m. window, Around the Horn's audience average grew 2 percent, increasing the show's streak of year-over-year growth to three months.
The success continued into the weekend as the Saturday and Sunday morning editions of SportsCenter combined to be up 13 percent year over year and driving ESPN to lead all networks from 7 a.m.-1 p.m. among viewers 18-49 and those 25-54.