SBD/Issue 62/Sports Media

NBA Up Big On TNT, ESPN As Heat Telecasts Deliver Big Numbers

NBA Telecasts On TNT, ESPN Up Big As
Heat Games Delivering Large Audiences

The NBA saw big early-season gains on TV during the opening weeks of the season, with ESPN and TNT both basking in double-digit percentage ratings and viewership increases for their game coverage. TNT is averaging a 1.8 U.S. rating and 2.846 million viewers for 14 telecasts through Dec. 5, up 38.5% and 44.8%, respectively, from the same point a year ago. The net has benefited from big numbers for a couple of Heat telecasts. The season-opening Heat-Celtics matchup earned a 4.6 U.S. rating and 7.348 million viewers, becoming the most-watched NBA regular-season game ever on cable TV. The net also had a 4.2 rating and 7.096 million viewers for LeBron James' return to Cleveland on Dec. 2. TNT's best regular-season rating for the '09-10 season was a 2.6 for the Celtics-Cavaliers season opener. The net is seeing significant gains in all key adult and male demos. Meanwhile, ESPN is also seeing big gains early in the '10-11 season, averaging a 1.4 U.S. rating and 2.152 million viewers for 19 games through Dec. 5. That is up 27.3% and 30.3%, respectively, from the same point last season. Heat telecasts have also been a boon for ESPN -- the net's Oct. 29 Magic-Heat telecast earned a 2.3 rating and 3.774 million viewers, while the same matchup on Nov. 24 earned a 2.0 rating and 2.985 million viewers. ESPN's best NBA regular-season game last season was the Christmas Day Heat-Knicks telecast, which earned a 1.7 rating and 2.652 million viewers. The network is also seeing big gains among all key adult and male demos.

NBA TV SEES SUCCESS FOR FAN NIGHT: NBA TV, which became a Nielsen-rated network at the beginning of November, is averaging a 0.2 U.S. rating and 219,000 viewers through 24 games this season, all of which are non-exclusive telecasts. The net has seen its best ratings for the NBA Fan Night games on Tuesday nights, averaging a 0.3 rating and 378,000 viewers for games chosen each week by a fan vote. The Nov. 9 Jazz-Heat telecast was the net's most-viewed program ever, earning a 0.5 rating and 659,000 viewers. NBA games across all networks have reached 54.966 million unique viewers to date (meaning those viewers who watched for a minimum of six minutes), up 28% from the same point last year, while total reach for Hispanics is at 6.317 million viewers, up 41%.

NBA GAME RATINGS, VIEWERSHIP
NET
GAMES
U.S.
RATING
% +/-
VIEWERS
(000)
% +/-
'09-10
GAMES
TNT
14
1.8
38.5%
2,846
44.8%
14
ESPN
19
1.4
27.3%
2,152
30.3%
21
NBA TV
24
0.2
n/a
219
n/a
n/a
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