Demo Reel: How Major Events Did In Several Demographics

Posted by | August 30, 2010 at 5:22 PM

Ratings for several recent marquee sporting events — the 2009 World Series, 2010 NBA Finals, 2010 Bowl Championship Series, 2010 NCAA Final Four, 2010 Winter Olympics, and the NFL postseason — in the key adults 18-49 demographic as well as the Hispanic and African American demographics.

Data is based on weekly primetime television ratings released by Nielsen, meaning that events that began during the afternoon — including the Rose Bowl, the Michigan St./Butler National Semifinal, several NFL playoff games and the World Cup — are not included.

Why these three demographics? Weekly ratings for the Hispanic and African American demographics are consistently made available by Nielsen, as are weekly ratings in the adults 18-49 demographic. Ratings for individual telecasts in other demographics are not as easily accessible.

Adults 18-49
Not surprisingly, the Super Bowl topped the charts among adults 18-49, drawing a 38.6 rating and 50.820 million viewers. The demographic made up 48% of the audience for the game, on par with the three other primetime NFL playoff games this year (47% to 48%). The NFL games topped all other events measured — except for the NBA Finals.

The NBA Finals had the largest proportion of adults 18-49, with the demographic accounting for 51% to 55% of the audience for each game. The series as a whole averaged a 7.3 rating and approximately 9.6 million viewers in the demo, topping the World Series (6.2, appx. 8.2 mil) and Winter Olympics (6.5, appx. 8.5 mil).

The NBA Finals also drew the single largest non-NFL audience in the demographic, as Game 7 scored an 11.4 rating and 15.036 million viewers (53% of the game’s total audience). The second most-viewed non-NFL telecast was the BCS National Championship Game, which drew a 10.5 and 13.380 million in the demo (43% of the audience).

The Winter Olympics had the smallest proportion of adults 18-49, as the demographic made up approximately 35% of the audience for NBC’s primetime telecasts. The Orange Bowl had the smallest single audience, with a 3.6 and 4.796 million (still 44% of the total audience).

African Americans
Again, the Super Bowl topped the list, drawing a 43.8 and 11.242 million viewers in the demographic. However, African Americans made up only 11% of the audience for the Super Bowl — the smallest of the four primetime playoff games (the other games ranged from 12% to 15%) and comparable to the BCS (11% for the four primetime games) and Final Four (12% for the two primetime games).

None of those events could compare to the NBA Finals. African Americans made up approximately 31% of the audience for the series, averaging just over 5.6 million viewers for the seven games. Game 7 drew a whopping 35.3 rating and 7.758 million viewers in the demo, and the series accounted for the seven largest non-NFL audiences in the demographic. By comparison, the NCAA Basketball National Championship Game averaged a 15.4 rating and 3.004 million in the demographic, just 13% of the audience.

On the flip side, African Americans made up a much smaller segment of the audience for the World Series and Winter Olympics. The demographic made up just 9% of the audience for the World Series, averaging less than 1.8 million viewers per game. Meanwhile, only three primetime Winter Olympics telecasts even made the weekly Top 25 in the African American demographic (one each week of the event) — and for those telecasts, the demographic made up just 4% to 5% of the audience.

Hispanics
The Super Bowl also topped the charts among Hispanics, averaging a 28.4 rating and 8.277 million viewers — or 8% of the game’s total audience. Hispanics made up 6% to 8% of the audience for the other three primetime NFL playoff games.

As in the Adults 18-49 and African American demographics, the NBA Finals had the largest proportion of Hispanic viewers. Hispanics made up 13% of the audience for the NBA Finals, averaging approximately 2.3 million viewers — topping the World Series (appx. 2.1 million, 11% of the audience). Of the events examined, the NBA Finals and World Series were the only ones where Hispanics made up at least 10% of the audience.

Hispanics made up just 6% of the audience for the BCS National Championship Game and just 4% of the audience for the NCAA Basketball National Championship Game. The latter drew just a 5.7 rating and 1.036 million in the demographic, well below any game of the NBA Finals or World Series — and the Duke/West Virginia National Semifinal two nights earlier drew a remarkably low 2.7 and 493,000 in the demo (just 3% of the game’s total audience).

Though Hispanics only made up 4% of the audience for the Winter Olympics, the primetime telecasts consistently finished among the ten highest rated English-language programs of the week in the demographic.

Conclusions
Excluding the NFL, the NBA Finals averaged more young and minority viewers than any other event examined — and a larger percent of those viewers as well. Based on the ratings, there would appear to be some cultural differences between the NBA and college basketball, as the two primetime NCAA Final Four games had fewer young/minority viewers and substantially smaller proportions of both.

The World Series outdrew the NBA Finals as a whole, but lagged behind in all three demographics examined — even among Hispanics, who represent a larger percent of Major League Baseball players than NBA players.

The Winter Olympics was the only event measured in which adults 18-49 made up less than 40% of the average audience, and the only event in which both African Americans and Hispanics made up less than 10% of the audience. That said, the event still put up strong numbers overall.

Ratings/Viewership For Recent Marquee Sporting Events Among Adults 18-49, African Americans and Hispanics
















































Event Overall Adults 18-49 African Americans Hispanics
Rating Viewers Rating Viewers Pct Rating Viewers Pct Rating Viewers Pct
2009 World Series
Gm. 1
11.9
19.511
6.3
8.250
42%
9.2
1.616
8%
10.2
2.024
10%
Gm. 2
11.7
18.897
5.8
7.641
40%
9.3
1.681
9%
10.5
2.023
11%
Gm. 3
9.1
15.397
4.7
6.195
40%
7.8
1.392
9%
8.6
1.715
11%
Gm. 4
13.5
22.761
7.8
10.244
45%
11.7
2.151
9%
12.4
2.417
11%
Gm. 5
10.6
17.092
5.3
6.948
41%
7.8
1.429
8%
10.1
1.870
11%
Gm. 6
13.4
22.339
7.4
9.712
43%
11.2
2.098
9%
13.5
2.795
13%
2010 NBA Finals
Gm. 1
8.6
14.088
5.7
7.489
53%
23.6
4.766
34%
8.9
1.797
13%
Gm. 2
9.2
15.718
6.5
8.491
54%
24.5
5.278
34%
8.4
1.612
10%
Gm. 3
9.6
15.959
6.7
8.757
55%
25.6
5.266
33%
10.1
2.098
13%
Gm. 4
9.9
16.371
6.6
8.708
53%
25.6
5.259
32%
10.1
2.089
13%
Gm. 5
10.8
18.654
7.2
9.440
51%
25.9
5.481
29%
10.2
2.198
12%
Gm. 6
10.4
17.960
7.1
9.380
52%
28.1
6.086
34%
11.9
2.560
14%
Gm. 7
15.6
28.203
11.4
15.036
53%
35.3
7.758
28%
17.4
3.841
14%
2010 Bowl Championship Series
Sugar
8.5
15.533
5.1
6.667
43%
8.3
1.667
11%
n/a
n/a
n/a
Fiesta
8.2
13.819
4.6
6.090
44%
7.8
1.420
10%
n/a
n/a
n/a
Orange
6.8
10.879
3.6
4.796
44%
7.3
1.303
12%
n/a
n/a
n/a
N.C.
17.2
30.776
10.5
13.380
43%
18.0
3.594
12%
9.1
1.791
6%
2010 Final Four
Duke/ W. VA
9.2
15.823
4.7
6.202
39%
9.8
1.956
12%
2.7
0.493
3%
Duke/ Butler
14.2
23.944
8.2
10.813
45%
15.4
3.004
13%
5.7
1.036
4%
Winter Olympics
2/12
17.3
32.641
9.0
11.844
36%
7.5
1.618
5%
6.0
1.239
4%
2/13
14.0
26.189
7.6
10.055
38%
n/a
n/a
n/a
4.5
0.939
4%
2/14
14.3
26.372
7.0
9.262
35%
n/a
n/a
n/a
4.9
1.020
4%
2/15
14.2
25.224
7.1
9.380
37%
n/a
n/a
n/a
5.1
1.097
4%
2/16
12.2
20.330
5.5
7.247
36%
n/a
n/a
n/a
4.5
0.843
4%
2/17
16.7
29.416
9.0
11.893
40%
5.7
1.042
4%
6.6
1.276
4%
2/18
14.5
24.782
7.0
9.217
37%
n/a
n/a
n/a
5.4
1.078
4%
2/19
13.4
23.304
5.4
7.139
31%
n/a
n/a
n/a
4.4
0.887
4%
2/20
14.7
26.668
7.4
9.716
36%
n/a
n/a
n/a
4.8
0.996
4%
2/21
13.2
23.294
5.9
7.740
33%
n/a
n/a
n/a
4.3
0.908
4%
2/22
12.5
20.926
5.4
7.043
34%
n/a
n/a
n/a
4.3
0.899
4%
2/23
12.6
21.279
5.5
7.200
34%
5.0
0.962
5%
4.6
0.895
4%
2/24
11.9
19.808
5.5
7.175
36%
n/a
n/a
n/a
4.6
0.918
5%
2/25
13.6
22.920
6.1
8.089
35%
n/a
n/a
n/a
5.3
1.110
5%
2/26
13.9
24.522
6.5
8.556
35%
n/a
n/a
n/a
5.0
0.999
4%
2/27
11.7
20.630
4.8
6.266
30%
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
n/a
2/28
12.1
21.403
5.5
7.298
34%
n/a
n/a
n/a
4.2
0.767
4%
NFL Postseason
PHI/ DAL
18.0
32.124
11.8
15.563
48%
23.3
4.841
15%
12.1
2.580
8%
BAL/ IND
17.0
30.569
11.0
14.473
47%
19.7
4.103
13%
9.5
1.927
6%
MIN/ NO
30.6
57.933
21.3
27.976
48%
31.6
6.769
12%
18.1
3.904
7%
SB XLIV
45.0
106.476
38.6
50.820
48%
43.8
11.242
11%
28.4
8.277
8%

(Ratings found on Media Life Magazine, Target Market News)

  • Bill

    Paulsen, how tiny were the Stanley Cup Final ratings in the African American demographic?

    • Paulsen

      None of the games appeared in the Top 25 weekly rankings.

  • Anonymous

    Great article!
    The biggest surprise to me, as a Baseball fan, are the relatively small numbers World Series drew among Hispanics.
    This is worrisome: we all know there are several Countries in Latin America where Baseball is king. In addiction, latin players in MLB are around 30% of the total and some of them are among the best players in the game. So, I wonder why they don’t watch ballgames. It’s clear soccer has a lot of fans among hispanics and Football is TV king. But I didn’t think NBA Finals could beat World Series. This is a big problem considering MLB thinks they can build a new, younger fan base starting from the growing hispanic community.

  • Fixitagain70

    NASCAR isn’t even mentioned? A 36 race season with the average number of television viewers for each race being 8.5 million! Hello! Anybody home? Not to some of the larger venues being able to hold 500000 people. I think you missed a sport.

    • Paulsen

      As was mentioned in the article, these numbers are taken from the weekly primetime Nielsen ratings, meaning that afternoon events (such as the bulk of the NASCAR schedule, including the Daytona 500) were excluded.

      Also, just to correct something you mentioned, NASCAR averaged just under 6.0 million viewers last year across FOX, TNT, ESPN and ABC, not 8.5 million.

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