Home Alone? Not for TV Sports

5/02/2004 8:00 PM Eastern

Looks like Billy Packer is right. Every year, the CBS Sports college-basketball analyst argues that ratings for the NCAA Division 1 men's basketball tournament are vastly underreported, because measurements don't reflect viewing by college kids and those watching in bars.

Large numbers of viewers are likely tuning in "March Madness" — and evidently a host of other sports, news and entertainment programming — according to findings from a new study from The Total TV Audience Monitor.

Results indicate that as many as 36.3 million American adults watch broadcast and cable programming in unmeasured, out-of-home locations per week.

The survey, of 3,092 adults and 929 college students, estimated that 86 million adults visit out-of-home locales with access to TV on a weekly basis.


Most of the screening is by college students — almost 10 million per week. Just under 30% (29.5%) of out-of-home viewing occurred at college, in off-campus housing and on-campus facilities (18.6%); trailed by the workplace (13.9%); hotels and motels (13.2%); second homes (10.8%); and restaurants or bars (6.9%).

The Total TV Audience Monitor study indicated that in the average quarter-hour, 72% of the out-of-home audience watches TV in settings that are comparable to a home environment and are therefore conducive to advertising: on-campus housing, off-campus housing, hotels/motels and second homes.

One-fifth of all adults 18 to 49 watch TV outside the home in the average week, while of the 15.7 million full- and part-time college students that view the small screen, 63% or 9.9 million do so away from their parents' residence.


Among cable networks, Dick Montesano, principal at Tarrytown, N.Y.-based Montesano Marketing Research, which supervises the project, reported that ESPN was the most popular service among adults 18 and older in the out-of-home realm, with some 5.4 million watching the total-sports network per week.

Cable News Network was second with 3.5 million, followed by MTV: Music Television at 2.7 million. TBS Superstation and Turner Network Television were fourth and fifth, averaging 2.3 million and 2 million viewers per week.

Among adults 18 to 34, ESPN edged out MTV, 2.7 million viewers to 2.6 million. TBS was third with 1.8 million, while Comedy Central and TNT scored 1.2 million and 1.1 million viewers in out-of-home locations, respectively, according to Montesano.

Montesano, a former ABC Television Network executive, said the study is now in its fifth year, but this marked the first time it included women and college students. He said the college segment comprised 929 students — 868 at four-year schools and 61 enrolled in other programs, covering a cross-section of young adults living at home or away from home.

Using a seven-day personal diary, TV viewing data was collected from a national sample of 4,021 adults from Oct. 16 through Nov. 12, 2003. The Total TV Audience Monitor is supported by sponsors and subscribers, including ESPN, ABC and the NFL.

Touting the results, ESPN executives said that of the network's out-of-home watchers, 59% only watch the channel in unmeasured outlets. These venues served to boost its adult audience by 11% overall, with the audience of males 18 to 34 growing at a 17% clip and men 18 to 49 up 14%. Moreover, a number of key ESPN programming components —SportsCenter, NFL Prime Time, National Basketball Association games and National Collegiate Athletic Association football action — all garnered significant viewing above Nielsen's traditional measurements.


On the broadcast side, ESPN sibling ABC's Monday Night Football saw its average adult audience jump 9%, or 1.4 million viewers, while the Alphabet Networks' college football offerings climbed 7% when the out-of-home locations were factored in, according to the report.

"This study reaffirms the fact that there is a sizable audience watching TV in a variety of unmeasured locations — most of which replicate the in-home viewing environment," said Artie Bulgrin, senior vice president, research and sales development, ESPN in a prepared statement. "It also demonstrates ESPN's and ABC's unique ability to deliver a significant and growing, incremental audience for our clients."

Outside Venue Viewing
The Total TV Audience Monitor estimates that as many 36.3 million viewers watch cable and broadcast programming in out-of-home settings, ranging from college dorm rooms and hotels to restaurants and in the workplace. The following are the top cable networks in such venues on a weekly basis:
Networks Viewers (Adults 18 - plus)
Source: The Total TV Audience Monitor for the period spanning Oct. 16 through Nov. 12, 2003.
ESPN5.4 million
CNN3.5 million
MTV2.7 million
TBS2.3 million
TNT2.0 million
Networks Viewers (Adults 18 to 34)
ESPN2.7 million
MTV2.6 million
TBS1.8 million
Comedy Central1.2 million
TNT1.1 million

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