While the move of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show from CNBC and USA to FS1 seems to have gone mostly smoothly from an editorial standpoint, it hasn’t helped the event’s ratings so far. As SportsTVRatings tweeted Tuesday, the first night of primetime coverage on FS1 Monday averaged over 400,000 viewers less than the show’s previous digs on CNBC:
FS1's 8-11:30P cvg of Westminster Dog Show easily led the net for the day w/970K. In 2016 night 1 was on CNBC & averaged 1.393M from 8-11P
— Sports TV Ratings (@SportsTVRatings) February 14, 2017
That’s way below men’s hoops (Louisville-Syracuse, then Kansas’ crazy comeback against West Virginia) on ESPN and women’s hoops (UConn’s 100th straight win, which came over South Carolina) on ESPN2 as well:
Top sports on cable last night: ESPN's West VA-Kansas had 1.8M viewers; Louisville-Syracuse had 1.5M viewers, ESPN2's USC-UConn had 1.2M.
— John Ourand (@Ourand_SBJ) February 14, 2017
That UConn women’s basketball game was the highest-rated college basketball game on ESPN2 this season, men’s or women’s:
Top ranked UConn’s 66-55 milestone 100th-consecutive victory over No. 6 South Carolina on Monday, Feb. 13 (9 p.m. ET, ESPN2), delivered a 0.9 overnight rating, marking the highest-rated college basketball game on ESPN2 this season among men’s and women’s telecasts, and the highest-rated women’s college basketball regular-season game since 2010. Digitally, the game also attracted 69,000 unique viewers with a total of 1,700,000 minutes watched, which makes this matchup the most streamed women’s college basketball regular-season game to date televised by ESPN. The Big Monday matchup ties Tennessee vs. Duke (Jan. 23, 2006) as the fourth-highest regular-season women’s college basketball game across all ESPN networks.
So, a result like this for FS1 might have edged a typical ESPN2 game, but it certainly couldn’t beat UConn’s quest for history. Of course, an audience of 970,000 is still very good by FS1’s standards, though, and it’s many more people than are regularly watching their programming. This does help reinforce that there aren’t many people naturally tuning into the channel, though, especially in primetime. The ratings ESPN tweeted out for cable networks in primetime in January are interesting on that front (though it should be noted that theirs are heavily, heavily juiced by the college football playoff games):
Cable Networks in January 2017: ESPN on Top in Primetime pic.twitter.com/lv23EBOUlS
— ESPN PR (@ESPNPR) February 14, 2017
The FS1 numbers are nowhere close to that, and that also perhaps shows that this move to FS1 may not have been the smartest move for the dog show. While they were reportedly annoyed at having their first night on CNBC rather than USA (thanks to the WWE RAW broadcasts), being on CNBC may still attract a bigger audience than being on FS1, and USA (which used to air the second night) is regularly one of the most-watched cable channels. It’s hard to think of other compelling reasons for this year-over-year drop apart from the network shift (maybe the compelling games on ESPN and ESPN2, but that would seem likely to be a smaller factor).
Still, FS1 seems to be doing a decent job of production on this, and they’ll certainly take almost a million viewers. That’s a pretty good number of people tuning into their channel. It’s just probably a little disappointing for the dog show to see this kind of audience drop following a network move.
[Sports TV Ratings on Twitter]