FARGO — American television viewers were not enamored with the spring Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.
Viewership for the three nationally televised games Sunday ranked at the lower end of the weekend sports ratings, according to the website showbuzzdaily.com.
North Dakota State's 24-20 loss at Sam Houston drew an average audience of 328,000 total viewers (114,000 in the age 18-49 category) on ESPN, as measured by Nielsen.
It was the Bison's least-watched game among those that have been nationally televised since 2011.
North Dakota's loss at James Madison had an average audience of 251,000 viewers (75,000 in 18-49) on ESPN2. South Dakota State's victory over Southern Illinois drew an average of 219,000 viewers (78,000 in 18-49) on ESPN2.
NDSU and Sam Houston kicked off at 2 p.m. Other sports events in that time slot included a NASCAR Cup Series race on FS1 that drew an average audience of 2.74 million and the PGA Tour's Valspar Championship on CBS that averaged 2.195 million viewers. An NBA game on ABC between Brooklyn and Milwaukee had an average audience of 1.65 million.
The top-viewed sports event that went head-to-head with the UND-JMU game was ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball game between the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies that drew an average audience of 1.37 million viewers.
A late NBA game between Toronto and the Los Angeles Lakers that began at 9 p.m. drew an average of 440,000 viewers in the same time slot as SDSU and Southern Illinois.
Prior to Sunday, NDSU's least-viewed nationally televised game was the playoff semifinals in 2019 against Montana State. It drew an audience of 518,000 on ESPN2.
The Bison's most-watched game was the January 2020 championship game against James Madison, which drew an average audience of 2.686 million viewers on ABC.
Here are some of the top TV numbers from Nielsen ratings for Bison football games, according to showbuzzdaily.com:
NDSU vs. James Madison in FCS title game on ABC in Jan. 2020, 2.686 million viewers.
NDSU vs. South Dakota State in FCS quarterfinals on ESPN in Dec. 2016 drew an average of 1.984 million viewers.
NDSU vs. Colgate in FCS quarterfinals on ESPN in Dec. 2018 drew an average of 1.806 million viewers.
NDSU vs. Illinois State in FCS quarterfinals on ESPN in Dec. 2019, 1.783 million.
NDSU vs. Northern Iowa in FCS quarterfinals on ESPN in Dec. 2015, 1.644 million.
NDSU vs. James Madison in FCS title game on ESPN2 in Jan. 2018, 1.515 million.
NDSU vs. Illinois State in FCS title game on ESPN2 in Jan. 2015, 1.44 million.
NDSU vs. Jacksonville State in FCS title game on ESPN2 in Jan. 2016, 1.35 million.
NDSU vs. Towson in FCS title game on ESPN2 in Jan. 2014, 1.2 million.
NDSU vs. Sam Houston in FCS title game on ESPN2 in Jan. 2013, 1.1 million.
NDSU vs. Montana in FCS Kickoff game on ESPN in Aug. 2015, 981,000.
NDSU vs. Iowa on ESPN2 in Sept. 2016, 968,000.
NDSU vs. Wofford in FCS quarterfinals on ESPN2 in Dec. 2017, 849,000.
NDSU vs. SDSU in FCS semifinals on ESPN2 in Dec. 2018, 846,000.
NDSU vs. Charleston Southern on ESPN in FCS Kickoff game in Aug. 2016, 797,000.
NDSU vs. Sam Houston State on ESPN2 in FCS semifinals in Dec. 2017, 604,000.
NDSU vs. Kansas State in Aug. 2013 on Fox Sports 1, 585,000.
NDSU vs. Montana State in FCS semifinals on ESPN2 in Dec. 2019, 518,000.
NDSU vs. Sam Houston in FCS quarterfinals on ESPN in May 2021, 328,000.
No figures were available for NDSU's first championship, which came against Sam Houston State in January 2012.