via ESPN press release:
Best First Quarter Ever for ESPN & ESPN2
Combined 24-Hour Audience for Four Domestic Nets a New High
ESPN and ESPN2 each posted its best first quarter ever, averaging more households than any previous January - March. In fact, ESPN set new highs all three months - January, February and March.
ESPN averaged 709,000 homes in first quarter, up 10 percent from 2008 (647,000) and higher than the record of 672,000 set in 2006. The network was boosted by larger audiences for the NBA and college basketball - including the NCAA Women's Tournament - as well as the return of the World Baseball Classic and the addition of live weekday morning editions of SportsCenter.
For March, its best ever, ESPN averaged 680,000 homes on a total-day basis, up six percent from 2008 (640,000). The network's January record for 24-hour audience (814,000 homes) was up 21 percent from 2008 (675,000) and the February mark (640,000) edged out February 2008 (629,000) by two percent as the network's most-watched.
ESPN2 averaged 268,000 homes, its best for first quarter ever and up two percent from the record set a year ago (263,000). Its performance reflects growth for men's college basketball and the World Baseball Classic.
In March, ESPN2 averaged four percent more homes than a year ago, 264,000, its best ever and up from 254,000 in 2008.
The combined 24-hour average audience for ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNEWS and ESPN Classic was a new first-quarter record of 1,064,000 homes, up six percent from 1,005,000 in 2008. The old record was set in 2006 - 1,015,000 households.