Total Audience Delivery measurement delivering for ESPN


ESPN just released a batch of numbers resulting from switching to Nielsen’s Total Audience Delivery (TAD) measurement service in late September.

What is TAD? It is the ratings you’ve been used to seeing for the past decade+ (TV + DVR) PLUS streaming and out of home viewing (OOH).

If you’re not really into the numbers the story is that ESPN is getting some bang for it’s TAD buck: as a result of switching to TAD, ESPN is up versus last year.

Total lift via the TAD components was 4 percent in total day audience and 13 percent in primetime. 

Especially given ESPN’s subscriber losses, any growth story is good even if the Y/Y comparison is a little tricky.

ESPN says that from September 25 through November 12, 2017, those add-ins added “14 percent more audience” across both total day and primetime viewership.

The “add-ins” are beefing up not just the program ratings but the ratings that really matter: the C3 ratings that measure average viewership for the commercials.

ESPN reports that with adults 25-54, the C3 ratings saw asubstantial 18% increase.

ESPN’s college football, Monday Night Football and NBA audiences saw 16, 13, and 18 percent lifts respectively in the C3 numbers.

For millennials (18-34) those lifts were a whopping 33% for college football, 26% for Monday Night Football and 27% for the NBA in the C3 numbers.

ESPN is emphasizing how much the “add-ins” have beefed up viewing with millennials with 23 percent lift with adults 18-34 in total day and a 28 percent increase to the 18-34 viewership in primetime.

Other millennial lift over the time period:

  • College GameDay: 33%
  • Monday Night Countdown: 28%
  • First Take: 19%
  • SC w/SVP: 14%
  • Sunday NFL Countdown: 16%

ESPN says millennials are driving nearly half of all ESPN streaming (46%) and given that most of the streaming is still happening via OTT devices like Roku, the opportunity to reach younger crowds on mobile seems still largely untapped for ESPN.

Women accounted for 33 percent of millennial out of home viewing and the total live audience among female viewers saw 12 percent lift with the inclusion of the OOH viewing.

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