SBD/Issue 144/Sports Media

NBA’s Regular-Season Ratings Down, With One Caveat

The NBA begins its postseason this weekend, and the league’s games on ABC this season averaged a 2.0 Nielsen rating, down from a 2.2 last year. But ABC had only one Christmas Day game this year, compared to two last year, and if Christmas Day games are not included, ABC’s ratings are even with last year, averaging a 1.9 rating for 18 telecasts. TNT earned a 1.2 cable rating this season, down 7.69% from a 1.3 last season. On ESPN, ratings were down slightly from last season, but the network saw gains in households, up 1.53%. The following presents NBA regular-season ratings for ’06-07. View game-by-game ratings for ABC telecasts (THE DAILY).

FINAL NBA REGULAR-SEASON RATINGS
——'06-07——
——'05-06——
NET
GMS.
RAT/ (000s)
GMS.
RAT/ (000s)
% +/-
ABC
19
2.0/ (2,251)
20
2.2/ (2,430)
-9.09%
TNT
52
1.2/ (1,061)
52
1.3/ (1,189)
-7.69%
ESPN
71
1.147/ (1,061)
64
1.156/ (1,045)
-0.77%
ESPN2
0
-----
6
0.8/ (722)
-----

NOTE: Ratings for cable networks are coverage area ratings. ABC ratings and HHs listed above are live + same day viewing.

Barkley Feels TNT Covered
Too Many Kings Games

TNT: Ratings in the men 18-49 demo were down 22%. ABC was down 12% in the demo. The NBA is ahead of MLB in the men 18-34 demo, 1.5 to 1.4, but trails in the men 25-54 demo, 1.5 to 1.6 (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 4/20). TNT’s Charles Barkley, on the net’s viewership being down, “For some reason TNT felt like we had an obligation to show the Sacramento Kings every two weeks. Everybody wants to say all these teams are great. That’s not true. A lot of these teams stink” (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 4/20).

CHUCK’S WAGON: USA TODAY’s Michael Hiestand reports TNT for the playoffs will have “in-car webcams” in the vehicles of Barkley, Kenny Smith and Ernie Johnson as they drive to work; the content will be available on NBA.com. TNT also created a MySpace page where the TNT crew will “describe what’s off-camera.” Highlights supervisor John O’Connor wrote, “One of the biggest topics of conversation is what our second meal is going to be.” Meanwhile, on ABC, analyst Mark Jackson will call his first NBA Finals, replacing Hubie Brown, who still calls games. Analyst Jon Barry, who was initially “hired to work a few games,” now is scheduled to work ABC’s on-site studio shows Saturday and Sunday, and serve as a game analyst for Saturday’s Heat-Bulls Game One (USA TODAY, 4/20). TNT has again added former NBA coach Mike Fratello to its broadcast team for the postseason (MIAMI HERALD, 4/20).

GONE TO MARKETS: In L.A., Tom Hoffarth notes ABC selected Games One and Four of Lakers-Suns for its exclusive Sunday afternoon windows and will likely have Game Seven if necessary. TNT will air Games Two and Three, but does not have exclusivity until the second round, meaning KCAL-Ind in L.A. can air Games Two and Five, and FSN West can air Games Three and Six (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 4/20)....Raptors analyst Jack Armstrong believes that the NBA “gave basketball fans short shrift” by scheduling Nets-Raptors Game One for 12:30 ET Saturday. He added that the storyline of the Raptors against former player Vince Carter “deserved prime time.” Armstrong: “The Raptors are one of the great stories in the NBA, but you couldn’t tell that by the 12:30 start time. ... Toronto’s a big market, but unfortunately it doesn’t register on the U.S. ratings.” In Toronto, William Houston reports TSN averaged 154,000 viewers for its 20 Raptors games this season, up 29% from ’05-06, while The Score averaged 111,000 viewers for 30 games, up 44%. The eight national telecasts on Rogers Sportsnet averaged 130,000 viewers, up 12% (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 4/20).

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