louisville cardinals

You might not be too surprised that Louisville watches more college basketball than any other American market. But you will probably be surprised by just how big the chasm is between Louisville and everyone else.

According to ESPN, here are the highest average ratings for all ESPN college basketball telecasts during the 2016-17 season:

Rank Market Rating
1. Louisville 5.5
2. Raleigh-Durham 2.4
3. Kansas City 2.3
4. Indianapolis 2.1
5. Greensboro-High Point 2.0
6. Cincinnati 1.8
7. Nashville 1.6
Greenville 1.6
9. Knoxville 1.5
Charlotte 1.5

Yes, games rated more than twice as well in Louisville as in Raleigh-Durham, home to Duke and North Carolina, the supposed center of college basketball.

In case you were wondering, Lexington, Kentucky counts as a separate market from Louisville but is not large enough for ESPN to get local ratings on it. However there are obviously many University of Kentucky fans living in Louisville, in addition to Louisville fans, so that market is drawing substantially from both fan bases. (UPDATE: A Twitter user points out that Louisville also benefits from its proximity to Hoosiers fans in Indiana, so make that three fan bases the market draw from.)

Louisville has now finished atop this list for 15 straight years, every year ESPN has tracked the metric. It’s 5.5 average rating was up 12 percent from last year, though some fluctuation could just have to do with how many Louisville and Kentucky games ESPN carries.

We know Kentucky residents love their college basketball, but North Carolinians and Kansans also love their college basketball. Just not as much, apparently.

About Alex Putterman

Alex is a writer and editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. He has written for The Atlantic, VICE Sports, MLB.com, SI.com and more. He is a proud alum of Northwestern University and The Daily Northwestern. You can find him on Twitter @AlexPutterman.