The general uncompetitiveness of the NBA Playoffs, featuring 8 out of the 15 series lasting just five games or fewer, led to noticeable year-to-year declines for its major broadcast partners, TNT and ESPN.
With an average of 1.711 million viewers in prime time, TNT fell 17 percent in total viewers from last year and it was the network’s lowest second-quarter audience mark in at least a decade. As a positive, TNT was still king of the cable universe among adults 18-49 in prime time. According to Live+Seven Day data, TNT averaged 842,000 adults 18-49 for the quarter, 34 percent above runner-up TBS.
ESPN declined 9 percent in prime time from 2016 (1.386 million vs. 1.526 million) and was the cabler’s least-watched second-quarter in four years.
Only two cable sports networks gained in total viewers in second quarter, each with one percent increases: NBCSN (167,000 viewers), with the help of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs; and, NFL Network (73,000 viewers) which delivered its most-watched network coverage of the NFL Draft to-date.
Prime Time (Mon-Sun 8-11 p.m.)
Total Day (6 a.m.-5:59 a.m.)
Source: Live+Same Day data from Mar. 27-June 25, 2016, Nielsen Media Research
Note 1: ESPN and ESPN2 aired World Cup Soccer in June 2014
Note 2: In 2012, ESPNU was not rated by Nielsen; in 2012-13, Fox Sports 1 (FS1) was known as Speed Channel and Fox Sports 2 (FS2) was known as Fuel.