Wrestling is gaining more recognition than ever before. ESPN’s record-setting coverage of the 2014 NCAA Wrestling Championships reached millions of viewers. For the first-time in the NCAA wrestling championships history telecasts of all six sessions and individual cameras came across all mats on ESPN3. The 2014 NCAA Wrestling Championships took place in Oklahoma City at the Chesapeake Energy Arena (home to the Oklahoma City Thunder) spanning from March 20 – 22.
The four telecasts on ESPNU and two on ESPN generated significant audiences across television and digital platforms. The coverage combined to reach 8.6 million people. It increased 39% over the last year compared to the 6.2 million in 2013.
The wrestling faithful took full advantage of the multiple platforms covering the NCAA Division one national championships. Fans were able to follow their favorite schools and athletes over the 20-hours of television coverage that averaged 253,000 viewers.
ESPN’s expanded digital coverage, which included a special of Off the Mat that debuted during the finals, in addition to individual mat cameras, generated 12.8 minutes consumed on ESPN3 and WATCHESPN. This is a 1% increase over the 2013 Championship. The coverage by ESPN delivered a highly desired product to fans across the nation.
WatchESPN is accessible online at WatchESPN.com, on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app and streamed on televisions through Xbox 360, Xbox One, Apple TV and Roku.
ESPN was able to measure the areas with the greatest amount of viewers. Oklahoma’s Tulsa and Oklahoma City were the two highest-rated metered markets, respectively, for ESPN’s combined semifinal and final telecasts. Minneapolis, Minnesota was third followed by Pittsburgh, Birmingham, Greensboro, Jacksonville, Nashville, Philadelphia, and Greenville according to ESPN’s press release.
ESPN began covering the NCAA Wrestling Division I Championships in 1980. Live telecasts of the championship finals began in 2004 and preliminary round telecasts began in 2005. Since 2011, ESPN has provided live coverage of all six sessions on ESPN3.
ESPN has done wonders for the sport of wrestling when covering the NCAA Wrestling Championship. The exposure of the sport to the world is a positive and draws in young athletes whom are inspired by their favorite athletes. The complete coverage of every match at the tournament allows fans to follow the country’s best wrestlers during their journey to the peak of the world’s toughest sport.