SBD/Issue 181/Sports Media

NBA Conference Finals Ratings Saw Double-Digit Percentage Drop

The NBA Conference Finals saw a double-digit percentage drop in ratings this postseason on ABC, ESPN and TNT. Game One of the Celtics-Magic Eastern Conference Finals was ABC's lone telecast of the series, averaging a 4.5 rating (7.1 million viewers) on a Sunday afternoon. That game was down 17% from the net's lone Conference Finals telecast last year, which featured Lakers-Nuggets Game Three on a Saturday night. ESPN's five Celtics-Magic telecasts averaged a 4.5 U.S. rating, down 15% from the same number of telecasts for last year's Lakers-Nuggets series. Meanwhile, TNT's coverage of the Lakers-Suns Western Conference Finals this year averaged a 4.8 U.S. rating for six telecasts, down 11% from the net's comparable coverage in '09 of the Magic-Cavaliers Eastern Conference Finals. The net's Lakers-Suns Game Three last Thursday marked the highest-rated and most-viewed Conference Finals game, averaging a 5.3 U.S. rating and 8.67 million viewers.

PLAYOFFS TO DATE: The '10 NBA Playoffs to date have marked the league's second most-viewed postseason on record, behind only last year's record-setting numbers. ESPN saw U.S. ratings for its '10 postseason coverage decline 3% for 19 telecasts, while viewership was down 6%. However, ESPN's NBA Playoff telecasts in primetime were the most-viewed cable telecast for their respective nights for nine of 10 telecasts. Those telecasts were also tops among males 18-34 for nine of the 10 primetime telecasts. TNT's 39 telecasts averaged a 2.8 U.S. rating and 4.3 million viewers, down 10% and 9%, respectively, from 43 games last year. TNT's primetime NBA Playoff telecasts also won 17 of 25 nights, and was tops among males 18-34 for 22 of those 25 nights. Despite the year-over-year decline from '09, NBA Playoff telecasts on TNT/ESPN this postseason accounted for nine of the top 10 most-viewed telecasts on all of cable this year. Heading into the NBA Finals, ABC's postseason ratings are down 3% from a year ago. The net last year averaged an 8.4 rating (14.3 million viewers) for the five-game Lakers-Magic Finals matchup; Celtics-Lakers in '08 averaged a 9.3 rating (14.9 million viewers) for six games.

NBA CONFERENCE FINALS
NET
GMS
RATING
% +/-
VIEWERS (000)
% +/-
GMS ('09)
TNT
6
4.8
-11.1%
7,854
-9.0%
6
ABC
1
4.5
-16.7%
7,030
-19.5%
1
ESPN
5
4.5
-15.1%
7,134
-17.9%
5
NBA PLAYOFFS THROUGH CONFERENCE FINALS
NET
GMS
RATING
% +/-
VIEWERS (000)
% +/-
GMS ('09)
ABC
9
3.4
-2.9%
5,258
-1.7%
10
ESPN
19
3.0
-3.2%
4,596
-6.1%
19
TNT
39
2.8
-9.7%
4,298
-8.7%
43
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