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How Much Live Sports Dominated Cable TV Ratings in 2023-24



ESPN ran a promotional marketing campaign within the mid-2000s known as “Without Sports” that posited the world could be much less attention-grabbing and fewer related within the absence of athletic competitors (and, in fact, ESPN’s exhaustive protection of it).

The 2024 model of that marketing campaign may go one thing like, “Without sports, would anyone be watching cable?” The reply is sure — however in far smaller numbers than in a panorama the place reside sports activities are abundantly obtainable by way of cable and satellite tv for pc suppliers.

Nielsen’s seven-day scores for the 2023-24 TV season present sports activities dominating the highest of the rankings amongst all viewers and the important thing ad-sales demographic of adults 18-49. In complete viewers, reside sports activities telecasts — led by ESPN’s Monday Evening Soccer with 7.38 million viewers (not together with simulcasts on ABC) — seize 9 of the highest 10 spots and 12 of the highest 20 amongst primetime cable reveals, counting titles with not less than three telecasts. NBA playoffs protection on ESPN and TNT, Main League Baseball’s postseason and the NCAA ladies’s basketball match all rank within the high 10.

‘Monday Night Football’ announcers Joe Buck and Troy Aikman

Julio Aguilar/Getty Photos

It’s not till the No. 10 spot {that a} non-sports present, Historical past Channel’s The Curse of Oak Island, reveals up. Three extra sports activities packages come forward of the second non-sports present within the high 20, Hallmark‘s When Calls the Coronary heart. Information programming takes 4 of the ultimate six spots.

Eradicating sports activities from the ledger places The Curse of Oak Island and When Calls the Coronary heart within the high two spots, however their viewer averages — 3.14 million and a pair of.77 million — are lower than half of the highest sports activities occasions. (For comparability, these two reveals would rank seventy fifth and 83rd amongst broadcast community collection in 2023-24.) Primetime reveals on Fox Information and MSNBC maintain six of the highest 20 slots, with the remainder distributed amongst Historical past, Hallmark, TLC, Discovery, HGTV, USA and Bravo.

Amongst adults below 50, sports activities is much more dominant. Fourteen of the highest 15 reveals with adults 18-49 are reside sports activities, and the fifteenth — WWE Monday Evening Uncooked on USA — can be an athletic competitors (albeit one with predetermined outcomes). TLC’s Sister Wives and Bravo’s Vanderpump Guidelines are the one sports-free reveals to rank within the high 20 amongst adults 18-49.

Under are the highest 20 primetime cable reveals for the 2023-24 season based mostly on Nielsen’s seven-day scores (which don’t embrace streaming), with and with out sports activities within the combine.

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