I guess the anecdotal evidence was right – lots of random, non-tennis fanatics (i.e. those coworkers, family and friends who look blank when you say things like “I hope Monte Carlo doesn’t lose its Masters Series status” or “Ernests Gulbis has the best hair!” ) really did watch and enjoy the Wimbledon singles finals this year. Both Williams v. Williams and Federer v. Nadal enjoyed top ratings, and – even crazier – data shows that these tennis ingenues watched the sprawling, four hours plus Fed-Nadal epic from start to finish! Hurray!
This news proves the following:
1. Tennis is and always will be the best sport in the universe! (Okay, it at least shows that tennis is growing in popularity.)
2. That these rivalries, especially Federer v. Nadal, are blessed gifts from the tennis gods. (I love how the president of NBC sports, quoted below, calls it an “emerging rivalry.” Uh, maybe if we were still living in the year 2006!)
3. Bill Simmons is either an idiot or a weirdo. (Click here and read the first two paragraphs of his dumb “article”, if you don’t get my reference.)
4. NBC should broadcast EVERY tennis match live, uninterrupted and un-fu#ked with! AMEN.
Okay, I’m done with my crowing and complaining – read on for the good news! (Or click here for the original article from The Hollywood Reporter.)
NBC loves Wimbledon ratings
Men’s final scores best overnights in eight years
By Paul J. Gough
July 7, 2008, 05:19 PM ET
NEW YORK — Wimbledon final ratings this year? A smash.
Sunday’s daylong battle between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal gave NBC its best overnight ratings for a gentlemen’s final in eight years, and the best non-U.S. final ratings since 1991.
“Breakfast at Wimbledon” on Sunday averaged a 4.6 overnight household rating/12 share between 9 a.m. and 4:45 p.m. ET, Nielsen Media Research said. The match, delayed by rain for more than two hours, was won in epic fashion by Nadal. Nadal took home his first Wimbledon title as well as kept Federer from winning his sixth title.
NBC Sports President Ken Schanzer said Monday that the network lost some of its audience during the rain delay but that it was only temporary.
“The entire audience came back once they (Federer and Nadal) got back on the court. It was almost like a three-act play,” Schanzer said. “The first act was Nadal. The second act was Federer. The third act was the denounement, the resolution. The drama just kept building.”
It was the best overnight rating for a men’s final since 2000’s Pete Sampras-Patrick Rafter (5.0/14), and up 44% compared with last year’s Federer-Nadal match (3.2/9) that Federer won. The peak was 6.5/15 between 4-4:30 p.m. It also was the best overnight men’s Wimbledon final since Boris Becker-Michael Stich in 1991, a 5.0/17.
And it also gives NBC the thought that there could be high-rated rematches in the future, and not just at Wimbledon.
“There is an emerging rivalry in tennis, Nadal-Federer, and big audiences tend to be driven by stars and rivalries,” Schanzer said. “It’s great to have a star, it’s even better to have a star and a rival. This rivalry has engaged and I felt that before the match, so frankly what was needed was a great match and it was everything we could have imagined.”
Sunday’s performance follows Saturday’s Serena Williams-Venus Williams final that drew the best overnight rating for a Wimbledon women’s final in three years. The match, won by Venus in straight sets, posted a 3.4 rating/10 share, a 21% increase over last year’s final between Venus Williams and Marion Bartoli, also won by Williams. It peaked toward the end with a 5.1/15.
It was the highest since the 4.0/12 posted by the 2005 by another final between two Americans, Venus Williams and Lindsay Davenport.
“It’s hard to imagine that it could have been a better weekend,” Schanzer said.
(Nadal photo: Ian Walton/AP)