Birmingham declared top ESPN market for 12th consecutive year

Bryant -Denny Stadium. Photo by Will Byington

Want clear evidence Birmingham is a sports crazy town?

According to Stephanie Divito, ESPN’s Senior Director of Media Intelligence, the Magic City was ranked number #1 in terms of viewership for ESPN’s flagship network in 2020.

In fact, the Birmingham television market has been ESPN’s top ranked market since 2008. Yep, that’s not a misprint – 12 consecutive years! 

“This is one of those stats I can pretty much set my watch to, Divito told Bham Now.  “Every year we can count on Birmingham coming through for ESPN.” 

In layman’s terms, the ranking is based on Nielson ratings in 56 different markets in the United States.  It is based on the percent of TV homes in the market that are tuned in to ESPN in any given quarter hour during the day.

2020 Rankings

UAB Football
Photo via Jacob Blankenship for Bham Now

Who were the other top ESPN markets?

Joining Birmingham in the top 10

2. New Orleans

3. Richmond

4. Louisville

5. Greenville, SC/Asheville, NC

6. Knoxville

7. Greensboro-High Point, N.C.

8. Charlotte

9. Memphis

10. Columbus, Ohio

We Are #1 on the Deuce & U

Birmingham’s rating dominance is not only on ESPN. In 2020, we were also the leading market on ESPN 2  and ESPNU. And they aren’t one offs

Birmingham has been the top ESPNU market since 2013. We’ve got a 3 year number one streak on ESPN 2.

We Love College Sports

Legion Soccer
Photo of the American Outlaws section at the U.S. vs Haiti Women’s friendly 2015 at Legion Field

Why is Birmingham an ESPN rating juggernaut? College sports.

“A large piece of it is tied to the love of college sports, especially college football which is not surprising, added Divito. “A good example, the latest college football semi-finals  championship game on New Year’s Day between Alabama and Notre Dame – delivered a 46 rating, which means just under half of homes in the market were watching the games at any given point, which is huge.”

In addition to college football, Birmingham is also one of the top markets for Monday Night Football.

“Birmingham tends to over-deliver for a lot of programs not just college sports, but clearly it is a driver,” concluded Divito.

Bottomline, when it comes to watching sports on ESPN, ESPNU and ESPN 2 no one beats Birmingham. Period.

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Pat Byington
Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.

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