TV Network Live Sports Viewership Rankings in 2020

Michael Mulvihill, an EVP at FOX Sports, and his Twitter feed regularly put numbers gleaned from the vast troves of data of Nielsen ratings into context. Today, Mulvihill had a couple interesting threads about live sports and news viewership. First, he documented the total viewership minutes accrued by each major network that airs live sports.

FOX had the most viewership minutes for live sports events in 2019. However, as Mulvihill noted, FOX also had the Super Bowl early this year, and it goes without saying that this enormous event tremendously impacted the tabulations.

The way to compare FOX Sports and ESPN in aggregate is to add up FOX + FS1 and compare that number to ESPN + ESPN2 + ABC. FOX + FS1 had 270.2 billion minutes viewed in 2020, whereas ESPN + ESPN2 + ABC had 256.9 billion minutes. A tight race!

Here is the part of the thread about news viewership:

I’m going to take a wild, hopeful guess and say that news viewership peaked in 2021. It’s also amazing how quickly and dramatically entertainment consumption moved from linear TV to OTT streaming.

I am bullish that 2021 is going to be a big year for sports and that live sports will capture some of the consumption that shifts away from news.

Written by Ryan Glasspiegel

Ryan Glasspiegel grew up in Connecticut, graduated from University of Wisconsin-Madison, and lives in Chicago. Before OutKick, he wrote for Sports Illustrated and The Big Lead. He enjoys expensive bourbon and cheap beer.

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