SBD/Issue 152/Sports Media

TNT, ESPN Seeing Early NBA Playoff Ratings/Viewer Increases

Spurs-Mavericks Opener Earns TNT Its Most-
Viewed Cable Playoff Game To Date This Year

TNT is averaging a 2.2 U.S. Nielsen rating (3.4 million viewers) for its five NBA Playoff games through Monday night, up 5% from the same period last year, when the net was averaging a 2.1 rating (3.1 million viewers). Game One of the Spurs-Mavericks first-round series on Sunday is the net's most-viewed cable playoff game to date this postseason, averaging 3.9 million viewers from 8:18-10:53pm ET. TNT is also seeing gains in all key adult and male demos, particularly in males 18-34 (+17%). ESPN's three playoff telecasts to date, which all aired on Saturday, averaged a 2.0 U.S. rating (3.0 million viewers), up 5% from '09. The net's top telecast on Saturday was Heat-Celtics Game One from 8:05-11:01pm, which earned a 2.5 U.S. rating and 3.8 million viewers (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).

CABLE CAR: ABC will air just nine playoff games before the NBA Finals, and ESPN Senior Dir of Programming & Acquisitions Doug White said, "ESPN has proven to be a very viable platform." He added, "The distribution is very comparable to that of ABC. And a lot of times, we really look at the two networks as interchangeable." When asked about moving more games to ABC in future seasons, White said, "We analyze each season on a season-by-season basis. So next year, if we see something in terms of the way we schedule the playoffs, or if we want to rethink things, that option is always open for us." ESPN this season will air the entire Eastern Conference Finals for the first time, and White said, "We're always trying different things out. We like the consistency that we're able to bring on ESPN" (SPORTSMEDIAWATCH.com, 4/19).

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