The John Cena-hosted 2016 ESPY Awards (1.6/7) started Wednesday with NBA stars LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul calling for action to stop violence, racial divide and doing better. The three-hour ABC broadcast then saw tributes to Muhammad Ali, Kobe Bryant, Abby Wambach, Peyton Manning and moving words from the mother of 15-year old football player Zaevion Dobson, who was killed by gunfire while protecting others last year. Vice President Joe Biden was even there to present the Jimmy V Award for perseverance to Craig Sager.
Unfortunately, the viewers weren’t there compared to last year’s record-breaking ratings results. Last night’s ESPY Awards were down 27% among adults 18-49 from last year’s Caitlyn Jenner-starring ceremony. Viewership-wise, this year’s ESPYs stumbled 24% from last year to 5.89 million. Overall, with its second-best ESPY results ever, ABC came second in the demo and viewers to NBC’s 1.9/7 rating and audience of 9.73 million.
That win was fueled by America’s Got Talent (2.3/4), which was steady with Tuesday’s show to top the night among the demo and, with 11.4 million watching, deliver NBC its best demo result in the time period since November 12, 2014. The Comcast-owned net’s night was sweetened by The Night Shift (1.3/5) jumping 18% over its July 6 show to hit a season high in 18-49s.
CBS saw Big Brother (1.7/8) down 11% from last week and newbie American Gothic (0.5/2) dip a tenth. Fox’s Masterchef (1.1/5) and Wayward Pines (0.8/3) dropped 15% and rose a tenth, respectively, from their July 6 shows in early numbers.
Penn And Teller: Fool Us (0.4/2) was back for a third season and down 20% from the premiere of last year on July 7, a Monday. A new Whose Line Is It Anyway (0.4/1) right afterward was up a tenth from the series’ last original June 20.