The 2017 NCAA Men’s Volleyball Championship, which aired at 7:00 Eastern Time on Saturday, May 6th, on ESPN2, has received a .05 P18-49 rating, with an estimated 150,000 viewers, according to showbuzzdaily.com. That made it the 147th-best rated Original Cable Telecast on that day.
The .05 number in the P18-49 rating means that .05% of viewers (1 in 2000) in the key 18-49 age demographic tuned in for the game either live or on their DVRs before 3AM the next day. That means it drew a similar rating to NBC Sports Networks’ Premier League Live Studio, though with a longer run-time (108 vs. 24 minutes) it drew 90,000 more total viewers.
The game was a repeat from 2016, with Ohio State beating BYU for the title. This time, however, Ohio state played in front of a home crowd that far out-drew last year’s neutral site in terms of in-person attendance.
The television numbers weren’t as rosy though. A year earlier, the game was the 98th-best rated Original Cable Telecast on that day per Nielsen’s ratings, drawing a P18-49 rating of .08 and an estimated 218,000 viewers. That game started an hour later at 8 Eastern.
In part, the dip might not be the fault of organizers or promoters. ESPN has experienced a well-documented loss of subscribers, which in October of 2016 alone was estimated by Nielsen to be a loss of 607,000 households, which was a low point for a company that has been losing 2%-4% of its audience annually. These numbers could be part of an overall trend away from large, expensive cable packages by younger audiences that has now hit even sports – which have been considered one of the bullet-proof programming bets for cable television.