If you happen to notice a sense of relief coming from ESPN in the last few days, there is a reason for it. It’s because, while they are not coming in World Cup numbers, viewers are tuning in to the network’s broadcasts of Euro 2008.
ESPN announced today that, for the 15 Euro 2008 matches shown on ESPN2 through Tuesday, June 17th, the average rating for the tournament is .5, with 521,000 homes tuning in and 655,000 viewers. Compared to the network average for the same time block (Noon to 5PM eastern) in 2007, this represents a 64% increase in households tuned in to ESPN2 (2007 average of 318,000 homes), a 67% increase in rating, and an 81% increase in viewers (2007 average of 362,000 viewers). The most watched match of the tournament on ESPN2 was this past Saturday between Sweden and Spain. The match netted a .9 rating from 831,000 homes and 1.01 million viewers.
In addition to ESPN2, the Spanish-language broadcasts on ESPN Deportes have been averaging an additional 74,000 Hispanic homes per match. This puts the combined household average of ESPN2 and Deportes for each match at just shy of 600,000 homes. Interestingly, the most watched match on Deportes so far is the opening-day broadcast of Portugal v Turkey, seen in 123,000 Hispanic homes.
Along with the viewership on TV, ESPN is also getting more eyeballs online. ESPN’s Soccernet website has averaged over 1 million daily visits during the tournament, an 82 percent increase over the same period during Euro 2004. The tournament is also contributing to ESPN360’s most watched month online since it’s relaunch in September of last year.
With increased viewership being seen on cable, ESPN will now be hoping for a successful jump to broadcast TV with the Netherlands v Russia quarterfinal this Saturday and the final next Sunday on ABC. But for now, programmers will be breathing a little easier at the worldwide leader in sports.