What we do know concerning the record-smashing TV numbers posted Sunday for NCAA ladies’s volleyball is that 1.659 million watched the landmark telecast on over-the-air Fox.
That’s earth-shattering information for followers of the fast-rising sport.
A viewership in seven figures vividly demonstrated to TV executives that volleyball can appeal to the informal viewers that gasoline development and intuitively must be a catalyst for extra matches to air on broadcast platforms.
As for what we don’t know concerning the telecast, dangle on, it’s essential, and we’ll get to that later.
However first, the Nielsen scores additionally instructed us that ladies’s volleyball completely blew away EVERYTHING televised in sports activities that day not referred to as the Nationwide Soccer League within the “prime” 18-49 demographic. The 18-49 demo is extremely coveted by advertisers as a result of their advertising and marketing surveys inform them youthful viewers are extra simply influenced by advertisements and it’s the largest age group at roughly 130 million.
Efficiency in the important thing demo is taken into account much more crucial than total viewership to tv decision-makers, in that it closely influences the CPM (value per 1,000 impressions) that may be a significant factor of the system that determines how a lot TV channels cost for a 30-second advert spot.
On Sunday, the volleyball telecast on Fox posted a score of .44 within the 18-49 demo. Within the shifting panorama of linear tv, that score is stupendous, even when it implies that fewer than one-half-of-one-percent of the potential viewership pool in 18-49 tuned in, as decided by Nielsen’s scientific sampling of U.S. TV households.
RATINGS SPIKE: Sunday’s @bigten ladies’s volleyball slate that includes @OhioStateWVB at @umichvball and @GopherVBall at @BadgerVB scored 1,659,000 viewers on FOX – the most-viewed common season ladies’s school volleyball telecast in historical past 🏐 pic.twitter.com/qzHtm1jIzx
— FOX Sports activities PR (@FOXSportsPR) October 31, 2023
That .44 score blistered the “prime demo” numbers put up on Sunday by the NASCAR Cup playoff race from the venerable Martinsville quick monitor on NBC (.21 with a total-average viewership of two.196 million), System One’s Mexican Grand Prix on ABC (.25/1.080 million), an English Premier League soccer match on USA Community (.10/345,000), an NHL recreation between the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers on TBS (.10/271,000), a soccer pleasant between the U.S. ladies’s nationwide workforce and Colombia on TNT (.06/235,000) and an NBA recreation between the San Antonio Spurs (with 7-foot-4 rookie sensation Victor Wembanyama) and Los Angeles Clippers on NBA-TV (.09/207,000).
The margins between ladies’s volleyball and the NASCAR and System One occasions have been significantly telling, in that each auto races aired within the afternoon on “Large 4” broadcast networks, moderately than cable, thus presenting higher apples-to-apples comparisons. Noteworthy, too, was the general viewership for volleyball was 75% of that of NASCAR, which has a loyal viewers that skews into the 50+ “geezer” demo. The surge in curiosity in F1 (wildly widespread worldwide) in America has been thought of an enormous success story, significantly with the treasured youthful set, but ladies’s volleyball vastly outperformed it within the demo and in complete eyeballs.
As for evaluating scores from a broadcast platform that may be accessed by America’s 123 million TV households to cable stations with smaller reaches, sure, that’s apples-to-oranges. However volleyball’s efficiency on Fox did illustrate the place the game would possibly stand on the tv pecking order. Take into account, too, that the Large 12 match between Oklahoma and Iowa State on Sunday afternoon, airing on the flagship ESPN channel, checked in with 206,000 viewers and a .07 18-49 score, within the ballpark with the worldwide ladies’s soccer recreation and the NBA recreation.
A final apples-to-oranges comparability: Ladies’s volleyball on Sunday had 20.4% of the viewers of the World Collection recreation (8.126 million) aired Monday night time on Fox. Nothing else would possibly illustrate how dramatically viewing tastes have modified within the twenty first Century. I fall solidly within the “geezer demo,” and by no means in my lifetime did I imagine I’d see a time when volleyball would even be 5 p.c as widespread because the World Collection, the annual showcase of America’s Pastime. However there it’s.
So what else do we all know concerning the oft-referenced 1.659 million quantity? It obliterated the earlier document for a ladies’s school volleyball telecast by 471,000 viewers. The mark had been held by the 2021 NCAA title match between Nebraska and Wisconsin on cable ESPN2, which lured 1.188 million and an 18-49 score of .33. It additionally greater than doubled the document for a regular-season ladies’s volleyball telecast of 612,000 set on Oct. 21 when Wisconsin and Nebraska battled on Large Ten Community.
Now comes the difficult “what we don’t know“ half concerning the numbers from Sunday on Fox.
The lofty Nielsens have been blended totals derived from two Large Ten matches, Ohio State-Michigan and Minnesota-Wisconsin, that aired at completely different instances, in several markets and by no means overlapped.
It’s just like Nielsen’s customary apply of reporting a single complete for a number of “regional” NFL video games aired by one channel throughout the identical time slot. Within the case of Sunday, the early afternoon NFL video games broadcast on Fox had a viewership of 19.977 million and an 18-49 score of 4.97, which little doubt greased the skids for volleyball with casuals, exactly what the TV executives had hoped would transpire.
So we are able to’t undoubtedly say what number of watched the match between Ohio State and Michigan that began at 2 p.m. Japanese and was proven in markets that included New York (the nation’s largest with 7.7 TV households), Atlanta (seventh-largest) and Boston (tenth).
Nor does the blended determine inform us what the viewership was for the match between Minnesota and Wisconsin (ranked No. 2 within the VolleyballMag.com Tremendous 16 Media Ballot) that hit the airwaves round 4:50 p.m. Japanese and was seen in many of the nation, though the Fox affiliate in Los Angeles (the No. 2 market with 5.5 million TV properties) opted to place it on a secondary digital channel. What figures to have performed a big position in boosting the viewership for Minnesota-Wisconsin was that it adopted the NFL recreation between the Inexperienced Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings of their residence markets.
Moreover, a breakdown of who watched what would possibly by no means be forthcoming, even from Fox Sports activities, whose PR division distributed a submit on the social-media platform previously often called Twitter that trumpeted the entire quantity as “probably the most considered regular-season ladies’s school volleyball telecast in historical past,” referencing each Large Ten matches.
Now it’s time to look ahead. Arising on Black Friday is the rematch between Nebraska and Wisconsin on Large Ten Community. Might that showdown exceed the 612,000 that watched the primary one? Why not?
Appreciable momentum has been constructed for the NCAA semifinals and closing, to be held on December 14 and December 17 at Amalie Enviornment in Tampa, Florida. The semifinal matches on Thursday will probably be proven on cable ESPN, however the title tussle has been moved to Sunday afternoon and will probably be broadcast on an over-the-air channel, ABC, for the primary time.
A viewership of two million had been tossed round, however given the success of the Fox telecast, an expectation of an viewers approaching 3 million won’t be thought of unreasonable. When the NCAA ladies’s basketball closing moved off of cable to ABC for the primary time this spring, it lured 9.9 million viewers.
Final however not least, let’s peer into the crystal ball. Fox will lose WWE’s “Smackdown,” a constant scores winner, from its Friday-night lineup in October of 2024 when the wrestling program jumps to cable USA Community. Why couldn’t Large Ten ladies’s volleyball fill that two-hour, prime-time void? It’s pure conjecture at this juncture, however a constant over-the-air presence would take volleyball to an entire new stage.