SBD/Issue 184/Sports Media

ABC Earns 9.2 Rating For Celtics-Lakers Game Two, Up 12% From '09

ABC Sees Double-Digit Ratings Gain For
Sunday's Celtics-Lakers Game Two

ABC earned a 9.2 final Nielsen rating and 15.718 million viewers for Sunday night's Celtics-Lakers Game Two of the NBA Finals from 8:04-11:04pm ET. Those figures are up 12.2% and 11.8%, respectively, from an 8.2 rating and 14.061 million viewers for last year's Lakers-Magic Game Two. Sunday's game marked the highest-rated and most-viewed program on all of TV for the week ending June 6. Outside of the home markets, Las Vegas topped all U.S. metered markets with a 14.7 local rating. ABC through two NBA Finals telecasts is averaging an 8.9 rating and 14.912 million viewers, marking the best two-game NBA Finals average since Pistons-Lakers in '04. ABC is also up 11.3% and 9.7%, respectively, from an 8.0 rating and 13.593 million viewers for the first two games of Lakers-Magic last year (Austin Karp, THE DAILY). Boston's WCVB-ABC averaged 894,000 viewers for Game Two, peaking with 1.118 million viewers during the last 15 minutes of the game (BOSTON HERALD, 6/8).

COMPARE & CONTRAST: In Philadelphia, John Smallwood writes both the NBA Finals and Stanley Cup Final, "because of the markets involved," are experiencing "some of their best ratings in years." But it is all "relative." The ratings for Celtics-Lakers when compared to NBC's coverage of the Blackhawks-Flyers series are "bordering on a 3-to-1 advantage." Smallwood: "For all of those complaints about NBA players being thugs and poor role models and about the quality of play in the NBA having drastically declined, sports fans in the United States, as a whole, still prefer the NBA over the NHL" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 6/8).

TIME FOR A FORMAT CHANGE? In Boston, Gary Washburn writes the NBA "seems married" to the 2-3-2 format for the NBA Finals, which is "annoying more than anything else." If the Celtics win two of three games in Boston this week, they "still will have to win at Los Angeles to win the series," while "all the Lakers have to do is steal one of the next three games, then they have the comfort of playing at home the final two games." It also is "unfair for both teams to have to play tonight when they finished Game 2 at nearly" 11:00pm ET Sunday. A former NBA player "questioned why the NBA doesn't push Game 3 to Wednesday, then play Game 4 Friday and Game 5 Sunday." Washburn writes, "A grand idea, except television wants to avoid Friday night because of ratings." NBA Commissioner David Stern is "listening to his masters and if ABC wants two weekday games and then a Sunday game for ratings, that's what Stern will do." However, adhering to television requests "as well as making for a fair series forces the league into some difficult decisions" (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/8).

GLOBAL CONSUMPTION: DAILY VARIETY's David Cohen noted the NBA's world TV market "comprises 215 countries and 41 languages," and NBA Entertainment Exec VP/Operations & Technology Steve Hellmuth said the league's broadband distribution globally is up "more than two times from last year." China is a "hotbed of NBA fandom -- so much so that the NBA is using technology not even ABC has to feed China's hoop cravings." China's CCTV roams the arena with a "LiveU" mobile unit, a "standard-def TV camera attached to a backpack that sends video via a cellular connection," which "gives them the freedom to shoot from pretty much anywhere there's a cell connection" (DAILY VARIETY, 6/7).

INTO THE WEB: NBA.com drew 2.1 million unique visitors Sunday for its coverage of Game Two, up 20% from last year's coverage of Lakers-Magic Game Two. The site also drew over 25.1 million page views and 4.7 million video streams, up 24% and 82%, respectively (Turner).

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