Live Sports Dominate On TV, Twitter

This has been a good year for live sports broadcasts — after the dust settles, ESPN will most likely be the most-watched cable network during prime time in 2015.

With the increase of fantasy sports leagues and the proliferation of “fantasy sports” sites like FanDuel and Draft Kings and their corresponding apps, it’s no wonder that live sports events see higher ratings than other cable shows -- especially with all that money on the line.

Nielsen's Twitter TV Ratings (NTTR) track how often different sporting events and TV shows are mentioned on the social media site and rank the different categories weekly.

This past week of the top ten in the NTTR sports events, the number one spot went to the 2015 NBA championship rematch of the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors. The game had 506,000 event-related Tweets sent in the U.S., with a unique audience of 6.7 million people.

Spots two through 10 were all taken by Sunday and Monday night NFL games.

According to Nielsen, live tweeting makes up 57% of the weekly Twitter TV impressions, showing that social engagement peaks during a broadcast. For example, the NFL Super Bowl way back in February had a record 25 million tweets.

If the NFL's partnership with Switzerland-based live sports data company Sportradar is any indication, online sports betting may attempt to gain a toehold in the U.S., where it is currently illegal.

In terms of series and specials, this week WWE Smackdown! and Raw events took four of the top 10n spots. However, even the highest-rated series and specials had a third the volume of tweets and social engagement that sports events did. One can only assume that sports reporters and trash talkers alike do not spend nearly as much time watching John Cena as they do Steph Curry.

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