Sport’s TV Ratings are Terrible ( except Football)

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Just found this article, really trying to understand why Sports League get paid so much for the TV rights-


There are currently 131 Million Households in the United States, average size is now 2.51 (went down)

The average audience for NBA Finals Game 3 on ABC and ESPN averaged 11.4 million viewers

That means only 4.5 Million Households out of 131M, that means 126.5M Households did not watch.

The 2024 NHL Eastern Conference Finals on ESPN averaged 2.3 million viewers

A tad over a million Households

Formula 1 AWS Canadian Grand Prix on ABC, a average of 1.8 million viewers

A tad over 717,000 Households

2023 World Series had a average of 4 Million Households

The 108th Indianapolis 500 averaged a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 5.344 million viewers across NBC, Peacock, and NBC Sports digital platforms


About 2 Million Households.

The WNBA ratings are not even worth it to post here.

Now, is this because of people leaving Traditional Services or has the ratings always been so bad, then why do they get such big contracts, for example, the new NBA deal of $7 Billion.

 
If you ever figure it out, please let me know. I'd love to know as well.
ESPN has no choice, needs the content when there is no Football.

But sports on the Networks makes absolutely no sense, they get better ratings with much cheaper to produce reality and primetime game shows.

But I am not going to watch those either.
 
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The reason sports are getting big money is because they come "prepackaged" so you don't have to produce anything and they are super risk averse. Reality TV is considered the cheapest thing you can produce now and that still costs like 500k an episode for the barest of bones shows (not stuff like Masked Singer with much higher budgets). I hear scripted shows cost like $5-10M? When you order a 10 eps, you're basically $100M on something pretty risky because you have to hope it catches on and you can average 5M viewers.

Nobody is getting fired for putting the NBA on TV, but they certainly will get fired for a string of scripted show busts.So if you're ESPN (or Fox or NBC) and paying 3B a year for the NBA, you have 1) way lower risk and 2) even the crappiest NBA finals in recent years average 2x-3x of your optimal scripted show viewership. Plus the NBA works with the networks when they make the schedules. They can put the choice matchups on national TV, so nobody's getting shafted having to watch the Magic and Pistons duke it out on Wednesday night, which helps ratings as well.

Putting aside the fact that stuff like F1 is also a repackaged Sky feed which costs Disney literally nothing to produce, it doesn't have to be football.
 
The reason sports are getting big money is because they come "prepackaged" so you don't have to produce anything and they are super risk averse.
You might want to rethink that statement .

Announcers, directors, those who operate the cameras, travel expenses if an away game, all the people behind the scene, etc, etc.

While the game will still be played, it costs a lot of money to put a game on Television.

Read the credits after a game, a lot of people getting paid.


Reality TV is considered the cheapest thing you can produce now and that still costs like 500k an episode for the barest of bones shows (not stuff like Masked Singer with much higher budgets). I hear scripted shows cost like $5-10M? When you order a 10 eps, you're basically $100M on something pretty risky because you have to hope it catches on and you can average 5M viewers.

You are missing the point, they (Networks/Cable Channels) pay a lot of money for sports that get maybe 1-3% of Households, those Reality Shows, while costs might be equal to produce a reality or a sports broadcast, the rights fees are on top of that for Sports, but the Reality Shows and Primetime Game Shows get much higher ratings and hence more advertising revenue.

Now I do not watch Reality, Game Shows, or MLB/NHL or NBA.
Nobody is getting fired for putting the NBA on TV, but they certainly will get fired for a string of scripted show busts.
They should, especially those that made that new deal.
So if you're ESPN (or Fox or NBC) and paying 3B a year for the NBA, you have 1) way lower risk and 2) even the crappiest NBA finals in recent years average 2x-3x of your optimal scripted show viewership.

Last year, An average of 11.3 million people tuned in to watch each game in the NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and Dallas Mavericks.

That is only 4.5 Million Households, 3.5% of all Households(131M) here in the states.

So for that, they get $7 Billion.
 
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My question is: what are the trends in ratings for these sports? I know F1 ratings have been on the rise the last few years with Drive to Survive, uh, 'driving' interest in the sport. Also, I remember reading this after the NCAA basketball tournaments this year:


The most important metric is probably in the last sentence:

Viewership has risen disproportionately in the key young adult demographic of 18-34 (+15%).
 
My question is: what are the trends in ratings for these sports? I know F1 ratings have been on the rise the last few years with Drive to Survive, uh, 'driving' interest in the sport. Also, I remember reading this after the NCAA basketball tournaments this year:


The most important metric is probably in the last sentence:

Viewership has risen disproportionately in the key young adult demographic of 18-34 (+15%).
NBA, NHL and MLB ratings are less every year.

MLB for example, just about 5 years ago, had a 11 Million Household average for the World Series, last year 4 Million, my guess, one of the reasons is Fox has not had a streaming service, while Paramount, Universal and Warner does.

That, I believe, is a reason why March Madness was up, also on Paramount+ and MAX ( first year on).

I expect the NBA Finals ratings to be down or at least even with last year since it is only on ABC, next year will be different of course with the new contract(s).
 
NBA, NHL and MLB ratings are less every year.

MLB for example, just about 5 years ago, had a 11 Million Household average for the World Series, last year 4 Million, my guess, one of the reasons is Fox has not had a streaming service, while Paramount, Universal and Warner does.

That, I believe, is a reason why March Madness was up, also on Paramount+ and MAX ( first year on).

I expect the NBA Finals ratings to be down or at least even with last year since it is only on ABC, next year will be different of course with the new contract(s).
Well, are they just down overall, or in demographics that matter to advertisers? I can see NBC, ESPN, etc. being more willing to pony up for sports that are losing older viewers, like myself, as long as the younger demos are growing. Or is it really just a low-risk investment in something with a guaranteed audience and relatively low production costs?
 
Announcers, directors, those who operate the cameras, travel expenses if an away game, all the people behind the scene, etc, etc.
You're intentionally missing my point. The issue is that the game comes as it is, you don't need to pay anyone to develop, write, script, etc. and then on the flip side, there are no residuals. At the end of the day, a sports program will exist and make it to week 2. The TV show you paid millions to develop and air? If you're LUCKY it gets to a 5.0 demo.
Reality Shows and Primetime Game Shows get much higher ratings
From what I understand, that's wrong. Mediocre basketball games are outperforming long-time, developed programming: TV Ratings for Sunday 19th May 2024 - Network Finals and Select Cable Numbers Posted

Ultimately, it takes a few years for a show to catch a following, at a huge risk to the producer. YOU HOPE that you can get the next CSI (without just making another spin off). those are the only things that can compete with sports, and even then.....
 
You're intentionally missing my point. The issue is that the game comes as it is, you don't need to pay anyone to develop, write, script, etc. and then on the flip side, there are no residuals. At the end of the day, a sports program will exist and make it to week 2. The TV show you paid millions to develop and air? If you're LUCKY it gets to a 5.0 demo.
And you are missing the point it costs a lot of money to produce a sports broadcast, that is on top of the way over priced rights fees.

Plus the fact that in season games get extremely worse ratings then the play-offs/championships.
From what I understand, that's wrong. Mediocre basketball games are outperforming long-time, developed programming: TV Ratings for Sunday 19th May 2024 - Network Finals and Select Cable Numbers Posted
That shows sports on Cable channels, I have been writing about the networks.
Ultimately, it takes a few years for a show to catch a following, at a huge risk to the producer. YOU HOPE that you can get the next CSI (without just making another spin off). those are the only things that can compete with sports, and even then.....
I never compared scripted content to sports broadcasts, I wrote reality and primetime Game Shows would be less expensive to produce and get better ratings, especially during the regular season.

For example-

Fox’s Thursday night broadcast of the Cardinals-Giants game from Birmingham’s Rickwood Field drew a two-year Thursday viewership high for an MLB game.

Per a release, the game averaged 2.346 million viewers, the network’s best audience for a Thursday night game since September 2022.


That is only 934,000 households out of 131 Million.

Fox is paying $787 Million plus production costs for those awful ratings

Then a Primetime Game Show, Price is Right last year received 5.2 Million.

 
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You're intentionally missing my point. The issue is that the game comes as it is, you don't need to pay anyone to develop, write, script, etc. and then on the flip side, there are no residuals. At the end of the day, a sports program will exist and make it to week 2. The TV show you paid millions to develop and air? If you're LUCKY it gets to a 5.0 demo.
Here is another point-

Fox and FS1 will have 93 Regular Season Games on.

Then Fox will have up to 7 Games for the League Championship ( either AL or NL, it alternates every year with TBS) .

Plus up to 7 Games for the World Series.

So to keep it simple, will say 107 Games total.

Fox pays MLB $787 Million a year.

That is over $7 Million a Game plus production costs.

That is for about 934,000 Households for the regular season( and less when only on FS1), about 4 Million for the World Series.

Now what is better, reality and game shows, which gets better ratings, that might cost $500,000 to a Million per episode, or a MLB game that is about $8 Million per with production cost added in?

 
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It does seem crazy and the bidding prices are outrageous.

But for baseball, perhaps one thing you aren't thinking of is eyeballs. The ratings aren't great, but they know that many people will be watching, and a prized demographic. At $100k a commercial, Fox needs to sell 70 to get above $7 million. Baseball is a naturally broken up game for ads. But the networks are kind of working against themselves with the bidding wars. They expect all of us to pay, which worked for a while, until it didn't.
 
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It does seem crazy and the bidding prices are outrageous.

But for baseball, perhaps one thing you aren't thinking of is eyeballs. The ratings aren't great, but they know that many people will be watching, and a prized demographic. At $100k a commercial, Fox needs to sell 70 to get above $7 million. Baseball is a naturally broken up game for ads. But the networks are kind of working against themselves with the bidding wars. They expect all of us to pay, which worked for a while, until it didn't.
Except they are not getting their full rates for ad slots during games, because the ratings are so terrible.

Fox had to rebate/discount advertisers last year, because the anticipated ratings for the World Series were much higher then they actually were.

So again, what is better, putting on a MLB game that costs $8 Million and receives less then 1% of Households, or a reality/prime time Game Show, that may get 2-3% of Households and costs $500,000-$1M and get better ad rates because of the higher rating?

Personally, I will not watch MLB or reality/game shows, I want new scripted content, hence one of the reasons why I stream.

I am looking at this from strictly a business viewpoint.
 

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