TV Sports Viewing Dips, But Basketball Climbs

National TV sports viewing is down slightly for the TV season so far.

Through 11 weeks of the TV season (though March 12), Pivotal Research Group says viewing of sports on national TV platforms slipped 1% versus the year before.

For the most recent week, sports viewing was up by 6% -- thanks to growing interest in end-of-season college basketball. For that week, Disney-owned networks, ABC and ESPN, accounted for 47% of all sports-related viewing, up 9% versus 2016.

During 2016, Pivotal says ESPN accounted for 32% of total viewing. NBCUniversal generated 20% of viewing, with more than a third coming from Olympics programming. Fox was at 16%, and CBS, 13%.

For 2016, nationally rated sports viewing --  live-plus-same day viewing and live-plus-seven days of tim-shifted viewing --  grew 5% over 2015. Taking out Olympics viewing, national sports was down 3%.

Looking back over the past decade, national sports programming is up by nearly 7%; with half of this growth coming from summer Olympics in 2016 versus winter Olympics in 2006.

All basketball -- college and NBA -- continues to grow in importance -- now 20% of all sports live viewing (up from 14%) between 2006 and 2016.

Sports programming constituted 10% (36 billion person hours) of total all national TV viewing hours (374 billion) including 7 days of time-shifted viewing playback.

Total TV sports viewing -- national, local and time-shifted  -- was 490 billion person viewing hours.

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