A highlight package of the 2022 USA Swimming Pro Swim Series on NBC last Sunday drew 537,000 viewers, according to ratings service Nielsen. That made it the week’s 34th-most watched live sports program in the US that week.
It was a crowded sports weekend, with final fours in both men’s and women’s college basketball, big NBA matchups, and the Texas Valero Open in golf also airing. The swimming highlights package on NBC led into the final day at the Valero Open, which drew about 2.3 million viewers.
NBC Universal usually airs English Premier League soccer in that Sunday timeslot across its networks. In the same slot on the cable channel USA Network, the premier league drew an estimated 608,000 viewers. That’s even with a smaller audience base – USA Network reaches about 91 million US households, while almost all of the 122 million US households with TV access get NBC. Bowling in the same time slot on Fox drew 847,000 viewers – for the USBC Masters, a showcase event that is made for high ratings.
Still, the numbers are being heralded as a positive in the Olympic space.
Other Interesting draws:
- The prior weekend’s college wrestling championships Saturday night broadcast on March 18 drew 632,000 viewers. That event overlapped with the final day of the women’s NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships, which were only streamed on ESPN+ live. A highlight package was aired on ESPN later.
- The Women’s NCAA basketball tournament drew a 10% increase in viewers over last year. The tournament has been the subject of a lot of scrutiny over equitable treatment between male and female athletes. In 2021, women’s players called out this inequity, and the 2022 tournament saw changes in both facilities and marketing (the women’s tournament used the ‘March Madness’ brand for the first time). The final between South Carolina and UConn, the sport’s two highest-profile programs right now, had a lot more national appeal than the Arizona-Stanford final of 2021, but the ratings still show a positive trend in interest in women’s collegiate athletics that was also reflected in SwimSwam’s traffic.
- The championship game of the men’s college basketball NIT between Xavier and Texas A&M drew 961,000 viewers on a Saturday night. The NIT is the second-tier college basketball championship tournaments that features the best teams that didn’t make the 68 team NCAA Championship field.