SBD/Issue 181/Sports Media

Magic-Lakers Gives NBA Most-Watched Game Two In Five Years

Magic-Lakers Draws Most Finals
Game Two Viewers Since '04
Sunday night’s Magic-Lakers NBA Finals Game Two on ABC earned an 8.2 fast-national Nielsen rating and 14 million viewers from 8:00-11:12pm ET. While the rating was down 3.5% from an 8.5 for Celtics-Lakers last year, viewers increased 3.8% from 13.5 million. The 14 million viewers also marks the most-viewed NBA Finals Game Two since Pistons-Lakers in ’04 drew 16.1 million viewers. Magic-Lakers Game Two was Sunday night’s No. 1 program across all key adult demos -- helping to give ABC the win in primetime -- as well as the net’s top-rated summer Sunday in five years among adults 18-49 and 18-34. For Game One, the net earned a 7.8 fast-national rating and 13.0 million viewers from 9:00-11:43pm ET, down 10.3% and 2.6%, respectively, from an 8.7 rating and 13.4 million viewers for Celtics-Lakers Game One last year. Game One gave ABC the win for last Thursday night in primetime, with the game ranking as the No. 1 program across viewers and all key adult demos (THE DAILY). DAILY VARIETY's Rick Kissell writes unless the Magic win tonight's Game Three, the "air will come out of this ratings balloon" (DAILY VARIETY, 6/9).

VOICE OF REASON: In L.A., Diane Pucin writes under the header, "Jeff Van Gundy Gives Fans Little To Criticize." Van Gundy, whose brother Stan coaches the Magic, said that during Sunday's broadcast on ABC, he "probably wasn't as vocal about criticizing some officials' calls he thought went the Lakers' way." Near the end of the first quarter of Game Two when a blocking foul was called on Magic C Dwight Howard, ABC analyst Mark Jackson "immediately said it was a bad call and waited for Van Gundy's response." However, there was an "uncomfortable silence, as if Van Gundy were biting his tongue," which he "admits he was." Van Gundy said, "I'm doing my best. But it's hard. I haven't hid it, I won't hide it now. He's my brother. This is the biggest moment of his life. I want him to win. So it's hard. Do I find myself pulling my punches? Probably. Do I think twice before I make a criticism about the Lakers? Absolutely. But, hey, how much could they have been criticized so far? Not much" (L.A. TIMES, 6/9). On Long Island, Neil Best writes through the first two games, Jeff Van Gundy's "sibling allegiance to the Magic's coach has not been evident." But even so, it is "asking a lot of viewers to listen without wondering how his opinions are informed and/or influenced by his relationship" with his brother. Best: "It's a phenomenon both interesting and distracting" (NEWSDAY, 6/9).

IF A BASKET IS SCORED ... : SI.com's Richard Deitsch noted with 24.4 seconds remaining in the second quarter of Game Two, ABC cameras "inexplicably ... focused on Magic forward Rashard Lewis heading to the bench" as Lakers F Pau Gasol made a basket. It was the "final basket of the first half, but we never saw it" (SI.com, 6/8).

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