Airing at 9pm ET, the re-run of the Friday night event averaged out at 225,000 viewers. That is a 33% increase on the 168,000 average for GLORY 26 AMSTERDAM and a 13% uplift on GLORY 25 MILAN, the organization’s ESPN debut, which scored 198,000, according to Nielsen ratings.
GLORY events air live on ESPN 3, the organization’s online platform, and re-air on ESPN 2 on the Sunday evening. Events also air with Spanish-language commentary on ESPN Deportes. These figures, along with figures for the live ESPN 3 broadcast and DVR recordings of ESPN 2, are not included in this week’s ratings boost.
During the most recent broadcast it was announced that a new multi-year deal is in place with ESPN. This will continue the present arrangement but will also see multiple events air live in the US on the ESPN 2 platform.
That will be interesting. ESPN data shows that around 96% of sports programming is watched live and while digital platforms are definitely the future of sport and entertainment broadcasting, network television remains, at present, the main driver.
“We are making solid strides in ratings on ESPN networks. Live broadcast numbers are up [on ESPN 3] and prime-time tape delay show numbers are up [on ESPN 2], so we are very happy with that,” GLORY CEO Jon J Franklin says.
“And don’t forget, this all took place against the unique competition of one of television’s highest rated broadcasts, the Academy Awards. This shows GLORY can pull in and build viewership in the USA even against the toughest programming opposition.”
Franklin says he is still waiting for DVR numbers for the latest show but expects them to be higher than usual because of the Oscars.
ESPN do not usually release ratings for ESPN 3 but made a point of doing so for the 2015 College Football Play-Offs in order to show how much growth their online platform was experiencing. Viewers of the Cotton Bowl Classic game, for example, were up by 87% on 2014’s Cotton Bowl and up 106% on the game which took place in the same time slot the previous year (the Orange Bowl).
The 2015 Cotton Bowl became the second most-streamed game for any sport in the history of ESPN3, excluding the World Cup, based on average minute impressions. It did a 9.9 overnight rating, which means that it is estimated 9.9% of the available target audience was tuned in.
Given the huge leap from the previous years’ numbers, and the constant growth of digital streaming entertainment as a whole, it is understandable that ESPN sees ESPN 3 as a core platform for the future. It may even become the platform at some point.
Between ESPN 3, DVR numbers and the Spanish-language broadcast on ESPN Deportes, GLORY’s programming is very likely already reaching more US viewers via ESPN than it was on Spike TV. Certainly Franklin seems delighted with the organization’s new television home.
“ESPN is the world leader in sports entertainment, bar none. Pretty much all the world’s leading sports properties are on ESPN: The Superbowl on ESPN Deportes, US Masters golf, Wimbledon tennis, the NBA, the NFL… you name it,” he says.
“We are the world’s premier kickboxing league and we are now well positioned alongside the world’s premier sports organizations on multiple platforms of ESPN, and not to mention our Glory Superfight Series alongside the worlds premier MMA organization, the UFC, on UFC Fightpass. That said, ESPN is a great fit for GLORY and we look forward to seeing our growth continue there.”
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