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Audience Analysis: Men's College World Series audience on par with '19

By Austin Karp

Television viewership for this year’s men's College World Series was OK. Viewership for the complete tourney from Omaha was on par with '19, which was the last time the NCAA staged the event without any COVID protocols. But viewership also was up significantly from last year. Which comparison do you want to use? They both work. ESPN and the NCAA tinkered with a big factor for audience numbers -- the windows for the championship round -- and that seemed to be the difference in down vs. up compared to '19. This year’s event was actually up a tick headed into the Ole Miss-Oklahoma final, but the two-game set compared to a three-game set three years ago closed the gap. The 15 games from Omaha on ESPN/ESPN2 this year averaged 1.1 million viewers, up big from just 758,000 last year, when ESPNU was in the mix for some games as well. The '22 tourney is about even with '19 (also just over 1.1 million), when ESPN/ESPN2 carried all games.

CHAMPIONSHIP BREAKDOWN: ESPN averaged 1.59 million viewers for the Ole Miss-OU final, which fell on a Saturday night and Sunday afternoon this year, respectively. Ole Miss-OU is down 18% from the three-game Vanderbilt-Michigan final in '19, which had Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday primetime windows (all three telecasts on ESPN). Ole Miss-OU was up a whopping 41% from the three-game Mississippi State-Vanderbilt final last year, which aired on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in primetime, but saw Games 1 and 3 air on ESPN2 amid later competition from the NBA Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Final. The last time the CWS had a two-game final was Florida-LSU in '17, which averaged 1.89 million viewers. How did the MCWS final do compared to the other finale featuring the Sooners earlier this month? Ole Miss-OU was just above the 1.58 million for two-game Oklahoma-Texas final in the Women’s College World Series (that featured one game on ESPN2).

College World Series final audience trend (ESPN networks)
YEAR MATCHUP GAMES VIEWERS (000)
2022 Ole Miss-Oklahoma 2 1,590
2021 Mississippi State-Vanderbilt 3 1,131
2019 Vanderbilt-Michigan 3 1,942
2018 Oregon State-Arkansas 3 1,961
2017 Florida-LSU 2 1,889
2016 Coastal Carolina-Arizona 3 1,085
2015 Virginia-Vanderbilt 3 1,412
2014 Vanderbilt-Virginia 3 2,005
Download the
CWS final audience trend

The chart below lists viewership figures for select recent sports telecasts.

TELECAST DATE NET(S) TIME (ET) VIEWERS
(000)
Stanley Cup Final: Avalanche-Lightning: Game 6 6/26 ABC 8:13-10:59pm 5,817
Stanley Cup Final: Avalanche-Lightning: Game 5 6/24 ABC 8:12-11:06pm 5,145
Stanley Cup Final: Avalanche-Lightning: Game 4 6/22 ABC 8:12-11:32pm 4,600
Stanley Cup Final: Avalanche-Lightning: Game 3 6/20 ABC 8:12-11:17pm 4,103
NBA Draft 6/23 ABC/
ESPN
8:00pm-12:37am 3,037
PGA Tour: Travelers Championship: final round 6/26 CBS 3:00-6:00pm 2,585
MLB: (regional) 6/25 Fox 7:12-10:32pm 1,951
PGA Tour: Travelers Championship: third round 6/25 CBS 3:00-6:00pm 1,949
MLB: Dodgers-Braves 6/26 ESPN 7:00-11:34pm 1,728
College World Series: final:
Ole Miss-Arkansas: Game 1
6/25 ESPN 7:05-10:38pm 1,632
NASCAR Cup Series (Nashville) 6/26 NBC/
USA
5:17-5:37pm;
6:35-7:52pm;
10:00pm-12:00am
1,600
College World Series: final:
Ole Miss-Arkansas: Game 2
6/26 ESPN 3:00-6:04pm 1,542
College World Series: pool play:
Ole Miss-Arkansas
6/22 ESPN 7:00-10:14pm 1,349
College World Series: pool play:
Ole Miss-Arkansas
6/20 ESPN 7:00-10:51pm 1,249
College World Series: pool play:
Arkansas-Auburn
6/21 ESPN2 7:00-10:42pm 1,107
KPMG Women's PGA Championship: final round 6/26 NBC 1:00-4:06pm 1,054
Track & field: U.S. Outdoor Championships 6/26 NBC 4:06-5:00pm 1,052
Track & field: U.S. Outdoor Championships 6/25 NBC 4:00-6:00pm 1,050
Liga MX: Campeon de Campeones: Cruz Azul-Atlas 6/26 Univision/
TUDN
8:29-11:35pm 1,035
USFL semifinals:
New Orleans Breakers-Birmingham Stallions
6/25 NBC 8:11-10:57pm 998
Camping World SRX Series (South Boston) 6/25 CBS 8:00-10:02pm 982
USFL semifinals:
Phialdelphia Stars-New Jersey Generals
6/25 Fox 3:06-6:00pm 957
College World Series: pool play:
Texas A&M-Notre Dame
6/21 ESPN 2:00-5:38pm 936
College World Series: pool play:
Oklahoma-Texas A&M
6/22 ESPN 2:00-5:00pm 910
PGA Tour: Travelers Championship:
final round (early)
6/26 Golf
Channel
1:00-3:00pm 849
KPMG Women's PGA Championship: third round 6/25 NBC 1:00-4:00pm 723
Camping World NHRA Series 6/26 Fox 3:00-6:30pm 702
Swimming: FINA World Championships (taped) 6/26 NBC 12:00-1:00pm 555
SailGP (Chicago)(taped) 6/26 CBS 1:00-2:00pm 545
Basketball: Big3 (Chicago) 6/25 CBS 1:00-3:00pm 496
"UFC Countdown" 6/25 ABC 1:00-2:00pm 464
MLS: Red Bulls-LAFC 6/26 ABC 3:00-5:00pm 460
"30 for 30: Dream On: Part 2" 6/26 ABC 1:00-2:00pm 440
"30 for 30: Dream On: Part 3" 6/26 ABC 2:00-3:00pm 432
MLS: Sporting K.C.-Sounders 6/25 ABC 3:00-5:00pm 427
"30 for 30: Dream On: Part 1" 6/25 ABC 2:00-3:00pm 421
Major League Rugby:
Seattle Seawolves-Rugby New York
6/25 Fox 12:00-2:30pm 281
Download the
Audience Analysis

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