For the third straight year, ESPN set a ratings and viewership record for its 2013-14 college basketball regular season. Overall, ESPN saw a 1.0 average rating (up slightly from 0.9 the last two seasons) and an average of 1.454 million viewers per game (increased from 1.37 million last season).
ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU combined to air 586 games this past season and averaged 501,000 viewers.
The basketball hotbed of Louisville was the highest-rated local market for ESPN's slate of games. It averaged a 4.5 rating far outpacing the three markets (Greensboro, NC, Kansas CIty, MO and Raleigh-Durham, NC) tied for second at 2.8. It marks the 12th straight season that Louisville was tops for ESPN's college basketball schedule and the 3rd straight for Greensboro in second.
ACC games helped to pace ESPN's ratings this season. The overtime Syracuse-Duke game in February brought the network its 3rd highest audience for a regular season college basketball game dating back to the 1991-92 season (4.745 million). Paulsen at Sports Media Watch notes that only three games in ESPN's Top Ten most viewed contests this season were non-ACC matchups. The rest all involved ACC teams.
While the numbers are up slightly from last season, ESPN will take the upticks rather than see a downward trend.