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NBCSN Scoring Big Total-Day Gains with Premier League

The addition of the Premier League has netted early-season Nielsen dividends for NBC Sports Group and the property’s primary telecaster, NBC Sports Network.

Through the first month of the 2013-14 Premier League season, NBCSN has rang up an almost 70% jump in total-day audience, the highest ratio gain among cable sports networks.

Gauged on a total-day basis, NBCSN has averaged 75,000 viewers from Aug. 17, when it kicked off match coverage with Liverpool-Stoke City through Sept. 15, when it televised West Ham United-Southampton, up from 45,000 during the corresponding Aug. 18-Sept. 16, 2012 period. That 67% advance in total-day viewership, albeit in many cases being measured against much larger audience bases, outpaces increases by other sports services, including ESPN (13%), MLB Network (33%) and Fox Sports 1 (29% ahead of predecessor, Speed) over the period. (See chart below).

Eighteen Premier League telecasts on NBCSN season to-date have averaged 367,000 viewers, a 55% rise from the same stage of last season, when Fox Soccer, ESPN2 and ESPN averaged 237,000 viewers through 21 matches.

“Our work with the Premier League is a great example of a partnership," said NBC Sports Group president of programming Jon Miller. "We thought it would be good, but didn’t think we would get there this quickly. We’re pleasantly surprised and look forward to continue to build on the early-season success.

NBC Sports president of programming Jon Miller
Read more at thought it would be good, but didn’t think we would get there this quickly. We’re pleasantly surprised and look forward to continue to build on early-season success

Sixteen hours of live-match coverage aside, NBCSN is also presenting various preview and review shows, including Premier League Goal Zone,Match of the Day 1 on Saturday nights and Match of the Day 2 on Sunday nights. All told, the network is serving up some 40 hours of Premier League presentations weekly.

“We’re really extending the property,” said Miller.

The Premier League is also scoring on NBC. Following a week off to accommodate international competitions, the Sept. 14 match in which traditional power Chelsea was shut out 1-0 by Everton, drew the broadcaster’s Premier League-best 917,000 viewers, including 483,000 persons 18 to 49 and 422,000 adults 25 to 54.

Thus far, NBC Sports Group officials said the Premier League has reached a total audience of 8.51 million viewers over 22 telecasts, a 95% jump from the 4.36 million for Fox Soccer and ESPN 2 over 21 matches at the same stage of the 2012-13 campaign.

This weekend, NBCSN will televise the Manchester Darby between City and United on Sunday at 11 a.m., as will Spanish-language broadcast network Telemundo, while CNBC takes to the Premier League pitch for the first time with Arsenal-Stoke at 8:30 a.m.

Miller said the Premier League is not the only property contributing to NBCSN’s total-day amelioration. He noted that Shark Hunters -- tournament fishing from the waters off Long Island and Martha’s Vineyard that ran on the network from the end of  July into early September -- performed well and will return to the channel’s lineup next summer.

Lifted by Labor Day finale from Baltimore, Miller said NBCSN’s Indy Car numbers finished ahead for the season, while the Formula One circuit is drawing viewers to NBCSN's early-morning, live race presentation, as well as encores.

He also talked up Pro Football Talk, which has returned with the start of the 2013 pigskin season, and credited Sports Dash, the collaboration with Yahoo!, as “a good source of news.”

As the exclusive national cable home to the National Hockey League, NBCSN executives are upbeat about the ratings prospects tied to a full pro hockey season.

Miller said NBCSN will air NHL action on Monday and Tuesday nights, as well as on Wednesday, where the “Rivalry Night” franchise averaged 646,000 viewers over 14 games during its rookie run, including the two most-watched regular-season contests in network history. The NHL schedule for NBCSN, which scored an 18% rise to 332,000 average viewers from the 2011-12 season, will expand when pro football season ends as “Sunday Night Football hands off to Sunday Night Hockey,” said Miller.

After the lockout claimed last season’s Winter Classic, the NHL will be back in force outdoors this time around. NBC will televise the Detroit-Toronto matchup from the "Big House" of Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor on New Year’s Day , while the "Outdoor Stadium Series" will features contests in Yankee (two) and Dodger Stadiums.

“We’re looking forward to a strong, full season with the NHL,” said Miller.

Cable Sports Networks' Total-Day Viewership

Source: Nielsen data

NBC Sports Group's Top 10 Premier League Games

Source: Nielsen data