Despite a rain-interrupted men’s Roland Garros final between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, NBC earned a 2.4 overall rating on Sunday morning, down eight percent (2.6) from the 2011 final between Roger Federer and Nadal, but up 50 percent from the Nadal against Robin Soderling 2010 final, which had a 1.6 rating.
The 2009 final between Federer and Soderling drew a 1.4, while Nadal’s wins over Federer in 2008 grabbed a 1.8.
NBC’S highest men’s rating was a 4.0 in 1999 when Andre Agassi beat Andrei Medvedev for the title.
While that’s good news on the men’s front, the women’s numbers were disappointing for NBC. Even though starlet Maria Sharapova reached the final and beat Sara Errani, the final only registered a 1.7, equaling the 2011 number when Na Li defeated Francesca Schiavone, and Schiavone’s victory over Samantha Stosur in 2010. The women have only gone above a 2.0 twice in the past 11 years: in 2002, when Serena Williams beat her sister Venus, NBC registered a 3.6. The following year, when Justine Henin beat Kim Clijsters for the crown, NBC registered a 2.3.
Tennis Channel reported record ratings during its first week of coverage. From the period of Sunday, May 27, through Saturday, June 2, the network’s live match coverage averaged a 0.61 rating according to Nielsen Media Research, or 319,738 homes, up 17 percent from 2011′s 0.52 average. The daily premiere of prime-time news, interview and analysis show French Open Tonight also established new highs, exceeding 2011′s performance by 51 percent every day, and is averaging a 0.52 rating vs. last year’s 0.35 for the first seven days, equal to 272,563 homes.
Virginie Razzano’s first round upset of Serena Williams drew a 1.02 rating, which was first place among all cable networks in Tennis Channel’s household coverage area and averaged 533,170 homes during the time period. Ratings in matches played by Maria Sharapova (0.95), Victoria Azarenka (0.84) and John Isner (0.68), pointed to weeklong viewer demand. “Before Tennis Channel there were just a few French Open matches on television each day, and now this tournament has coverage around the clock,” said Ken Solomon, chairman and CEO, Tennis Channel. “There’s been a real paradigm shift in how this event is televised, which has since spread to every major.”