SBD/Issue 70/Sports Media

Celts-Lakers Earns Highest Regular-Season Rating In Four years

Rating For Celtics-Lakers Up 51% From
Comparable '07 Christmas Day Game
ABC's broadcast of Celtics-Lakers on Christmas Day earned a 5.3 fast-national Nielsen rating, making it the highest-rated regular season NBA game since Heat-Lakers earned a 7.3 rating on Christmas Day in '04. The rating was up 51% from a 3.5 for Suns-Lakers on Christmas Day last year and delivered a 65% larger audience (9.960 million viewers versus 5.984 million). Meanwhile, Spurs-Suns, which preceded Celtics-Lakers on ABC on Christmas Day, earned a 3.2 rating, up 3% from a 3.1 for the comparable Heat-Cavaliers game last year and delivered a 15% larger audience (5.757 million viewers versus 5.020 million) (THE DAILY).

HOLIDAY HOOPS: In DC, Michael Lee noted the five NBA games played on Christmas Day were the "most since 1979, when there also were five games," and with all of the games televised nationally, it was the "busiest day ever for televised regular season games." In '07 there were only three games televised nationally on Christmas, "but with the holiday landing on a Thursday, when TNT has exclusive rights to show its weekly doubleheader, the league and its television partners decided to take advantage of the day, which accounts for one-fourth of its regular season national television audience." From '02-07 an average of 21 million viewers watched NBA games on Christmas (WASHINGTON POST, 12/25).

HANDS-ON TV: ESPN VP/Strategic Business Planning and Development Bryan Burns said that the net is planning to create interactive TV that "uses technology already in 25 million-30 million homes." USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand noted on live programs "you'll be able to use your remote to vote in viewer polls and, during games, call up extra stats on the teams and players." The net also "plans to let viewers designate players, teams and sports to customize their own 'Bottom Line' on-screen graphics," though that will "only be possible in about 2 million homes with the necessary technology in their cable boxes." Burns added that cable operators will "decide how much or whether to charge viewers" for the service (USA TODAY, 12/24).

INSIDE VOICE: The AP's Pat Eaton-Robb profiled ESPN's Chris Berman, and Berman said of his role at the net, "Just don't call me a personality. What is that? That's a morning disc jockey. I entertain, but I take what I do, the journalism part, seriously. Sportscaster, that's fine. That encompasses all of that." ESPN Exec VP/Production Norby Williamson said of Berman, "He is our most important person. He is the face of ESPN." N.Y. Post columnist Phil Mushnick said Berman "could have become the sage voice at ESPN by now, a voice of maturity, credibility and wisdom. Instead, he's the voice that does the imitation of Chris Berman. He's the head clown in the circus over there." Berman, 53, said that he "doesn't see himself still at the network when he's 65 years or old, or even 60." Berman's contract "expires on his 55th birthday" (AP, 12/25).

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