SBD/Issue 179/Sports Media

NBA TV Partners Seeing Playoff Ratings, Viewers Decline To Date

After seeing gains during the early rounds of the NBA Playoffs, all three NBA TV partners are now seeing declines for their respective postseason telecasts. ABC's ratings through nine telecasts are down 3% compared to '09, when the net had aired 10 playoff telecasts. ESPN's 2.8 U.S. rating is off 7% through 18 games, and its average of 4.4 million viewers is down 6% from last year's record-setting postseason numbers. Meanwhile, TNT's ratings for the NBA Playoffs are seeing a double-digit percentage drop through the same period as last year. Viewership for those games is also down 9%. However, NBA Playoff games accounted for cable TV's five most-viewed telecasts for the week ending May 23. TNT's coverage of the NBA Playoffs led the net to a No. 1 ranking among ad-supported cable nets last week in primetime delivery of viewers among adults 18-34, 18-49, and 25-54. The net's telecast of Game Three of the Lakers-Suns Western Conference Finals last Sunday also was the week's No. 1 broadcast in all demos on ad-supported cable. ESPN for the week also saw a 17.4% year-over-year gain in primetime viewership compared to the same period last year. Additionally, based on viewership, nine of the top 10 programs on cable during this year's playoffs were NBA games, and eight of the top 25 programs since the start of year have been NBA Playoff telecasts (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).

NBA PLAYOFFS RATINGS, VIEWERSHIP THROUGH MAY 26
NET
GMS
RATING
PREV.
% +/-
VIEWERS (000)
PREV.
% +/-
GMS ('09)
ABC
9
3.4
3.5
-2.9%
5,258
5,349
-1.7%
10
ESPN
18
2.8
3.0
-6.7%
4,428
4,700
-5.8%
18
TNT
37
2.6
2.9
-10.3%
4,060
4,478
-9.3%
41

SLIP SLIDING AWAY? In San Diego, Jay Posner writes ABC/ESPN execs "must be a whole lot more nervous about their dream Lakers-Celtics matchup" in the NBA Finals than they were "a few days ago." Posner: "And the NBA needs help -- ratings for the conference finals are down from last year" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 5/28).

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