UCF's loss at Wichita State on Thursday night was the most-watched Knights basketball game of the season, as it garnered 268,000 viewers on ESPN2.
It was the most-watched television program that day that aired on ESPN2. The game is consistent with what College Basketball draws in that time slot on that channel.
It was also the most-watched UCF Basketball game of the season to date, beating the December 27th loss at SMU, which nationally got as much as 266,000 viewers, and the loss on November 24th to West Virginia at the Advocare Invitational, with 233,000 viewers. UCF-West Virginia was on at the same time as the War on I-4 Football game on that Black Friday.
College Basketball TV numbers pick up after Football season, so it is no surprise that the UCF game on Thursday night at Wichita State was the most watched game of the season involving the Knights. In College Basketball only games that air on ESPN and ESPN2 draw significant numbers. So games not mentioned in this blog that aired on the ESPN family of networks means it did not get a big audience and did make the top 150 most watched shows on cable that night. Ratings for games that air on CBS Sports Network or ESPNews are not made public.
The next UCF game scheduled to be televised on ESPN or ESPN2 will be the March 1st home game against Wichita State, which will air on ESPN. This game should go down as the most-watched Knights game of the regular season. One of the reasons is the extra exposure Wichita State gives the conference on television in Men's Basketball, as the Shockers have been the showcase team in their first year in The American, with marquee TV slots and solid viewer numbers.
UCF benefits from this, getting two TV slots they may not have gotten if the game this past Thursday and even more on March 1st which is one of best TV time slots of week for College Basketball on ESPN. Would UCF have gotten these two specific time slots if Wichita State was not in the conference? Less likely, UCF gets these two slots against any other program in The American.
Last season UCF was on ESPN twice with both games coming in the NIT - the road game at Illinois State and the final four game in New York against TCU. It will be interesting to see how that game does compared to last season's numbers.
Last year's NIT Final four semifinal game against TCU was watched by 678,000 viewers on ESPN. That is the most-watched UCF Basketball game on cable television in recent history. The Knights' win over Illinois in the Elite 8 of the NIT last season drew 573,000 viewers on ESPN2. UCF's road win at Illinois State garnered 597,000 on ESPN. The Knights' AAC Tournament loss against SMU last season was watched by 308,000 viewers on ESPN2.