SBD/February 9, 2011/Media

Filling It Up: TNT, ESPN On Pace For Record NBA Ratings This Season

Albert says increased ratings due in part to "The Decision"
TNT and ESPN are "on track to turn in cable TV's most-watched NBA seasons ever," according to Michael Hiestand of USA TODAY. TNT is averaging a 1.5 U.S. rating for its coverage through Sunday, and its 27th season of NBA coverage "is on track to be its highest-rated ever, beating the 1995-96 season as the top-drawing season." TNT announcer Marv Albert yesterday in an online chat said that the ratings increase is due to the fact that the league "has a new villain" in the Heat. Albert: "Miami is the major factor that TV ratings are sky high. And as bad as (ESPN's) 'The Decision' show was ... you need a team you don't like" (USA TODAY, 2/9). TNT's 34 game telecasts to date are up 25% and 33%, respectively, from a 1.2 U.S. rating and 1.769 million viewers at the same point last year. Ad sales for the NBA on TNT are also pacing up 30% from the same point last year. NBA TV also continues to see ratings success, as the 14 games that have been part of the net's Tuesday "Fan Night" are averaging 384,000 viewers. The net for 55 games season-to-date is averaging 242,000 viewers, with the net's ad sales up 223%. Meanwhile, NBA games on ESPN are also seeing big gains heading towards the All-Star break. Through 44 games, ESPN is averaging a 1.3 U.S. rating and 2.026 million viewers, up 18.2% and 22.3%, respectively, from a 1.1 rating and 1.657 million viewers at the same point last year. ABC is also up through four telecasts, averaging a 4.4 rating (+33.3%) and 8.129 million viewers (+44.1%) (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).

'10-11 NBA RATINGS, VIEWERSHIP TO DATE
NET
GMS
U.S. RATING
% +/-
VIEWERS (000)
% +/-
'09-10 GMS
ABC
4
4.4
33.3%
8,129
44.1%
4
TNT
34
1.5
25.0%
2,359
33.4%
31
ESPN
44
1.3
18.2%
2,026
22.3%
46
NBA TV*
55
0.2
---
242
---
---
NOTE: NBA TV was not a Nielsen-rated network prior to the '10-11 NBA season.


HEAT RISING: In this week's SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, John Ourand notes local ratings for the NBA "so far this season are strong," as 16 teams "were posting ratings increases through January," with 11 posting declines. The Heat have "posted the biggest local TV ratings increase of all NBA teams through January," as Sun Sports is averaging a 5.4 local rating for its Heat telecasts, up 118% from last year. The 5.4 rating "ranks No. 3 in the league." Sun Sports is also averaging 85,000 HHs for its Heat telecasts, which is tied for fifth. FS West is averaging 287,000 HHs for its Lakers telecasts, marking the NBA's "biggest local audiences." The Lakers are followed by the Bulls, Celtics and Knicks (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 2/7 issue).

TOP SIX NBA TEAMS IN LOCAL AUDIENCE
TEAM RSN
HOUSEHOLDS
Lakers FS West
278,000
Bulls CSN Chicago
141,000
Celtics CSN New England
118,000
Knicks MSG
115,000
Heat Sun Sports
85,000
Spurs FS Southwest
85,000
BOTTOM SIX NBA TEAMS IN LOCAL AUDIENCE
Nets YES
22,000
Kings CSN California
22,000
Thunder FS Oklahoma
19,000
Grizzlies SportSouth
17,000
Bucks FS Wisconsin
16,000
Bobcats SportSouth
11,000
   

NOTE: Data unavailable for the Hornets and Raptors.


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