For the second straight year, in 2010 ESPN and ESPN2 each posted their most-viewed year, as did the combination of ESPN networks (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNEWS, ESPNU, ESPN Classic and ESPN Deportes), according to Nielsen. ESPN capped the year with its most-watched quarter ever and for the year led all cable networks in total-day delivery in key male demos – men 18-34, 18-49 and 25-54.
ESPN averaged 880,000 homes on a 24-hour basis, up six percent from 2009, the previous record. ESPN set a new viewership record in all four quarters and finished strong as the fourth quarter registered as its most-viewed quarter in history. The 24-hour average for the quarter was 1,140,000 homes, up eight percent from the last year’s previous best, and November was ESPN’s most-watched month of all time. It was also ESPN’s most-viewed year in prime time, an average of 1,778,000 homes, up three percent from the record set last year.
ESPN’s fourth quarter and prime-time ratings were boosted once again by Monday Night Football – it posted its highest-rated season since moving to ESPN and cable’s 16 biggest audiences of 2010 to rank eighth among all television shows in primetime (cable or broadcast) – and NFL studio programming. Other strong performers included college football and NBA games, as well as continued growth for the network’s flagship program, SportsCenter.
ESPN2 averaged 276,000 homes on a total-day basis, edging last year’s 275,000 for a new record. For the fourth quarter, the network averaged 307,000 homes, a record for the quarter and up seven percent from 2009, the previous high. September was the network’s most-watched month in history.
ESPN’s six networks combined to average a record 1,282,000 homes on a 24-hour basis in 2010, an increase of five percent over last year.
ESPNU nearly doubled its audience from a year ago once year-to-year comparisons were available in October.
ESPN Deportes was again the most-watched U.S. Spanish-language sports network this year, and ranked second among all Spanish-language cable networks for viewership among Hispanic men.