ESPN hyped Kentucky/Kansas more than any game I can remember, so it makes sense that the matchup ended up being the highest-rated college basketball game this season on an ESPN network. The game earned a 2.0 overnight rating, which also makes it the highest-rated SEC/Big 12 Challenge game since the series started in 2013-14.
In a sign of the times, ESPN had a streaming average minute audience of 78,000 viewers, up 32% over last year’s game — tying the 2015 Champions Classic Kentucky vs. Duke matchup as the second most-streamed regular-season college basketball game on ESPN.
In Louisville, the game averaged a 15.6 rating, the fourth-highest rating this season in the market for a college basketball game. The matchup averaged a 12.3 rating in Kansas City, up 22% from last year’s 10.1 rating for the Kentucky vs. Kansas matchup. The 12.3 rating ranks as the highest-rated regular-season college basketball game in the market since last year’s Oklahoma vs. Kansas game (Jan. 4; 16.8 rating). Behind Louisville and Kansas City, the top-10 markets are as followed: Cincinnati (8.6), Nashville (6.4), Knoxville (6.1), Indianapolis (4.8), Memphis (4.6), Greensboro (4.4), Richmond (4.2) and Dayton (3.9).
And just think, the TV audience didn’t even get to see Steve Zahn going crazy at midcourt:
UPDATE: A few of you have asked, the Kansas/Kentucky rating does not beat out the 2.2 rating for the Kentucky/North Carolina game on CBS earlier this year. Kentucky/Louisville, which was on ESPN, pulled a 1.7 rating.