Submitted by Lee Singletary and Chris McGinnis | September 1, 2020
The Q2 2020 edition of The TV Viewership Report (TVR) explores viewership trends compared to the same period last year. While stay at home orders eased up and audiences adjusted to a “new normal,” TV viewership showed growth with Comcast households consuming 8.5 billion hours of TV viewing. That’s the equivalent of 17 hours of additional viewing time per HH in the quarter vs. the same period last year.
Sports were noticeably absent from TV programming and schedules as leagues took precautions and delayed seasons due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In mid-summer, some sports programming returned to screens as the season’s starts (and restarts) got underway for MLB, NHL, NBA and others.
News headlines emphasized strong tune in, some noting shattered records in terms of viewership. MLB Opening Day games saw a record average of 4 million viewers, up 232% from 2019, according to ESPN. In soccer, with the restart of the English Premier League in mid-June, NBC Sports’ viewership of weekday matches was 45% higher than the full 2018-19 season weekday afternoon average, contributing to the most-watched Premier League season in four years.
In Comcast households, a significant uptick in unique HHs as well as viewership was recorded for 2020 season starts and restarts vs. 2019, a strong sign that sports fans’ pent up demand is driving TV viewership.
While a return for some sports is great news for fans, it’s important to keep in mind that just because others are off air doesn’t mean their fans stop watching TV. Sports fans who aren’t able to watch their favorites on-air, still watch other sports that did make a return, and the new Effectv Sports Matrix shows these adjacencies.
For example, college football was greatly impacted by the global pandemic with the NCAA BIG TEN and the PAC 12 postponing their fall championships, but that doesn’t mean the fans stopped watching sports altogether. In Comcast HHs, college football superfans are more likely to tune into the other college sports and golf, among others, representing a great opportunity for advertisers looking to reach die-hard fans outside of their favored teams and events.
The Effectv Sports Matrix—available within the latest TVR—illustrates the primary sport of the “Superfan Viewer” and the other sports they are most likely to watch. A valuable resource for advertisers, the matrix can be used to inform campaigns intended to successfully reach a superfan of one sport on other networks and sports programming.
The robust return of sports is a positive moment in this challenging year for consumers and advertisers alike. As more sports and tent pole event programming make their return, advertisers can find valuable insights in the TVR to inform campaign strategy.
Moving forward, the report will publish on a bi-annual basis and provide a first- and second-half look at viewing during the year. The TV Viewership report will continue to benchmark viewership data, helping marketers use TV’s reach and precision to be more effective in delivering results. Be sure to look for the 2H 2020 report in early 2021.