2023 Q4 Sports Preview
As the leaves start changing colors, we officially get into the best sports season of the year. Yes, Q4 brings us right into the middle of peak sports with the MLB Postseason, the bulk of the NFL and College Football regular seasons, and College Bowl Games.
Beginning in October, advertisers have access to the MLB Postseason. Prior to the World Series, the postseason action can be primarily found on TBS, FS1, and ESPN. Last year, ESPN’s coverage of the MLB Wildcard round averaged nearly three-million viewers, posting a 64% increase in viewership over the Wildcard round in 2020.
The 2022 Division Series also performed well across TBS and Fox/FS1 averaging nearly 3.5 million viewers – a lift of 21% year-over-year.
The League Championship Series remained relatively close to flat when compared to last season, although, one could point to more “large market” teams reaching the League Championship Series in 2021 vs. 2022.
In 2023, I’d expect similar results as we saw last year, with the National League likely to bring several big market teams to the party.
The college football season kicked off a few weeks ago, and we’re already seeing one of the most captivating seasons in recent memory. Deion Sanders and the Colorado Buffaloes have been one of the biggest stories so far this season, and Cox Media has been graced with several high-profile matchups to start the year.
One such contest, was Texas’ upset of Alabama which aired on Saturday, September 9. The game, which aired on ESPN, drew 8.8 million viewers, and was the most-watched regular-season college football game on the network since 2015.
As we move through the season, historic big-name schools like Texas, Michigan, Florida State, USC, Ohio State, and Notre Dame will all be in the mix to contend for a spot in the College Football Playoff.
Speaking of those playoffs, 2023 marks the final year of the four-team playoff. In 2024, we’ll see those playoffs expand to 12 teams, but we’re still excited to see how this season shakes out first.
Last year’s slate of bowl games produced a litany of memorable contests. Both semifinal games were two of the most viewed individual Semifnals since the 2017-18 season, and the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Semifinal was the most-watched primetime CFP Semifinal since year 1.
The NFL also recently kicked off. With a few weeks of Monday Night Football action in the books, ESPN and their family of networks has already seen a great viewership returns. A torn Achilles tendon for Jets’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers shook the sports world, but the Jets defense didn’t falter in this contest against the Buffalo Bills. The game continued to captivate viewers turning the game into the most-watched Monday Night Football game since ESPN started carrying the package in 2006.
Even with last week’s doubleheader across ESPN and ABC, the Monday Night Football banner has continued to drive considerable viewership as fans watched 21% more Monday Night Football in week 2 compared to week 2 in 2022.
Now, some big news that was recently announced is that ABC will now be simulcasting every Monday Night Football game for the remainder of the season due to the ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTA strikes. How this affects viewership moving forward will be something we’ll be closely monitoring, but we’re optimistic that fans tuning into ABC’s broadcast will be complementary viewers rather than cannibalistic.
Throughout Q4, there’s a sport out there for all kinds of consumers. When you’re ready to get your brand in the game, don’t hesitate to reach out to your Cox Media representative!
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