SBD/Issue 150/Sports Media

ABC, ESPN, TNT All Post Gains For Regular-Season NBA Coverage

ESPN's coverage of the '08-09 NBA regular season on ABC saw a 16% increase in viewers, as an average of 3,684,000 watched the net's 18 broadcasts this season, up from 3,175,000 for 19 broadcasts last year. The total makes the '08-09 regular season the most-viewed on ABC in six years. The NBA on ESPN averaged 1,680,000 viewers for 71 regular-season telecasts, which marks the net's most-viewed NBA regular-season ever and a 14% increase from 1,468,000 viewers for 70 telecasts in '07-08 (ESPN). TNT for its regular-season telecasts averaged a 1.1 cable rating, up 4% from '07-08, and also posted a 14% increase in total viewers (1,711,000 from 1,496,000 in '07-08) and a 5% increase in HHs (1,296,000 from 1,230,000 in '07-08) (TNT). Meanwhile, in Portland, John Canzano reported Tuesday's Rockets-Trail Blazers game earned a 27.5 local rating on KGW-NBC. But "more impressive" is that the game "had a 21.4 to 10.8 advantage locally over 'American Idol'" while both were on the air (OREGONLIVE.com, 4/22).

Magic Coach Stan Van Gundy Says He
Never Complains About NBA Schedule
REMOTE CONTROL: In Philadelphia, Marcus Hayes notes Magic coach Stan Van Gundy "indulged in a rare spate of candor when asked about the 2-day lapse between Game 1 and Game 2, which followed a 3-day gap between the season's end and Game 1" of the 76ers-Magic series. Van Gundy: "I never complain about the schedule. Not in the regular season, not in the playoffs. The schedule is made for TV. TV is what funds the league. I'm not going to be foolish enough to say TV shouldn't influence the schedule. Because TV has put a lot of money in my pocket, as well as everyone else's" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 4/23). 

COACHSPEAK: ESPN.com's Bill Simmons wrote in a "noble effort to give viewers more inside access than ever before, the NBA began allowing sideline reporters to interview each coach before the start of the second and fourth quarters." But with the exception of Lakers coach Phil Jackson, "who uses these moments as veiled psychological warfare, coaches greet these interludes with the enthusiasm of someone being frisked by an off-duty police officer." Simmons listed three issues he has with the interviews: coaches "getting pulled away during crucial times when ... they're supposed to be dispensing advice to their players;" sideline reporters dealing with the NBA's "unspoken ground rules," which means "every question inevitably revolves around the same three themes;" and that "as they tape these interviews, the coaches know employees from the opposing team will be watching the finished product, so they aren't exactly dying to spill secrets" (ESPN.com, 4/22).

Writer Feels Doug Collins Breaks
Game Down Better Than Any Analyst
BEST OF THE BEST: In Cleveland, Bill Livingston writes TNT NBA analyst Doug Collins "breaks a game down better than any analyst I have ever heard," and Collins' comparison in Game 2 of the Pistons-Cavaliers series of Cavaliers F LeBron James' "willingness to pass to his own play was priceless." Livingston adds TNT NBA analyst Mike Fratello also is "on my short list of guys I love to hear." Livingston writes his "favorite sports show on TV -- in any sport - is 'Inside the NBA' on TNT," as host Ernie Johnson "keeps the talkers more or less on point, Kenny Smith plays beautifully off Charles Barkley and knows the X's and O's, and Barkley does irreverence and contrarian opinions convincingly" (CLEVELAND.com, 4/23).

STICK TO THE GAME: In Utah, Doug Robinson wrote, "Memo to networks: Please don't turn ballgames into 'Entertainment Tonight.' If we want to listen to talking heads fawning over celebs, we'll watch Fox News. Does any real sports fan enjoy the blurring of the line between Hollywood and professional sports?" Robinson wrote the NBA "not only goes along with this, it encourages it," as the NBA Web site "features a list of the Lakers' celebrity fans" (DESERET NEWS, 4/22).

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