September 25, 2022

It only lasted one game, but Serena Williams’ the return to tennis gave Wimbledon a boost. Plus: Men’s College World Series peaked in viewership but fell short of MLB last weekend; a shift from broadcast to cable lifted the rain from NASCAR to Nashville; and more.

Solid numbers for Williams’ brief return to Wimbledon

Serena Williams’ loss in the first round of Wimbledon against Harmony Tan – his first Grand Slam match since being injured in the same round of the same tournament last year – averaged 842,000 viewers over three hours on Tuesday afternoon. Viewership peaked at 1.2 million in the final minutes. Tuesday’s full TV broadcast averaged 528,000, ranking as the second most-watched day of Wimbledon in five years and the most-watched of the tournament so far (through Thursday).

Most-watched men’s CWS since 2018, but no MLB game last weekend

The Men’s College World Series averaged 1.11 million viewers on ESPN, up 13% from last year, when coverage was set to rival the NBA playoffs, and up 1% compared to 2019. Keep in mind that outdoor viewing was not included in figures for 2019 or prior years.

The two-game Mississippi-Oklahoma final drew an average of 1.63 million last weekend, per ESPN — up 12% from last year but down 17% from 2019. Viewership also fell from the previous two-game sweep in 2017 (Florida-LSU: 1.89M). According to ESPN, Game 1 last Saturday night and Game 2 last Sunday afternoon averaged 1.63 million. This differs from the figures published by Daily ShowBuzzwhich showed game 1 at 1.63 million and game 2 at 1.54 million for an average of 1.59 million.

One week after a CWS match on ESPN2 topped ESPN’s Sunday night baseball head-to-head, Mississippi’s decisive Game 2 win averaged fewer viewers than SNB lead (Dodgers-Braves: 1.90M). The Dodgers-Braves’ viewership, which includes 173,000 viewers for the “KayRod” simulcast on ESPN2, was up 41% from the equivalent Sunday night game last year.

In other baseball action, regional coverage on FOX last weekend drew a 1.1 rating and 1.95 million viewers (vs. 1.4 and north of 2.4 million last year ), FS1 drew just 0.16 and 275,000 for the Royals-Rangers last Saturday, and TBS chipped in 226,000 for the Astros-Mets on Tuesday.

Switch to broadcast boosts NASCAR Nashville ratings despite rain

Rain coverage of the NASCAR Cup Series race in Nashville averaged 1.8 and 2.92 million viewers on NBC, up 23% in viewership and 11% in viewership over last year , when the race went as planned but on NBCSN. NBC’s coverage peaked at 3.3 million viewers in the final minutes before the race was red-flagged. The race’s conclusion averaged 0.48 and 793,000 on USA Network, slightly below the previous day’s Xfinity Series race on the same channel (0.50, 796K).

In other racing action, the second edition of the season’s SRX on CBS averaged 0.58 and 982,000 last Saturday night – up from the previous week (0.58, 951K), but the second smallest audience in the series’ young history (eight total telecasts).

More: USFL, golf, track, ESPN Q2

Last Saturday’s New Orleans-Birmingham USFL playoff game averaged 0.65 and 998,000 primetime viewers on NBC, preceded by Philadelphia-New Jersey at 0.6 and 957,000 on FOX earlier in the day – the most-watched USFL broadcasts since Michigan-Birmingham after the Preakness in May (1.20M). The USFL regular season averaged 715,000 viewers, per Sports Business Journal. … Coverage of the PGA Tour Hartford tournament averaged 1.55 and 2.59 million viewers on CBS last Sunday and 1.2 and 1.95 million last Saturday, both the lowest in three years. The PGA Women’s Championship final round averaged 0.7 and 1.05 million on NBC last Sunday, up 13% from last year and a 17-year high, with action from third round at 0.49 and 723,000. … The U.S. Athletics Championships averaged 1.05 million viewers on NBC last Saturday and Sunday, down from the previous non-Olympic year in 2019 (respectively 1 .06 and 1.47 million). …ESPN averaged 612,000 daily viewers in the second quarter, up 4% from a year ago (589K), with primetime viewership up 22% to 1.64 million, its highest in the quarter since 2014. Keep in mind that ESPN had both the NBA and Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since 2004.

[Nielsen estimates from ShowBuzz Daily 6.28, league and network PR]