SBD/May 17, 2011/Media

NBA Continues Record-Setting Playoff Viewership Through Second Round

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Bulls' Game One win over Heat was most-watched NBA game ever on cable

TNT has averaged 4.8 million viewers through the first two rounds of the NBA Playoffs, putting the net on pace for the most-viewed NBA postseason in cable TV history. The net's viewership through the second round (35 games) was up 33% from an average of 3.6 million viewers last year (33 telecasts). TNT topped all networks, broadcast and cable, among males 18-34 during its six nights of primetime games in the Conference Semifinals. ABC has averaged 6.8 million viewers for its nine telecasts to date, marking the net's second-best NBA Playoff audience through two rounds since the start of the TV deal prior to the '02-03 season. ABC is also up 28.5% from 5.3 million viewers through nine postseason telecasts last year. ESPN also saw gains through two rounds of postseason play. The net averaged 4.2 million viewers for 13 telecasts, up 16% from 14 telecasts last year.

NBA PLAYOFF VIEWERSHIP THROUGH CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS
NET
GMS
VIEWERS (000)
PREV.
% +/-
GMS ('10)
ABC
9
6,754
5,258
28.5%
9
TNT
35
4,823
3,638
32.6%
33
ESPN
13
4,158
3,587
15.9%
14
           

SPECIFIC HEAT: TNT earned a 6.2 U.S. rating and 11.1 million viewers for Game One of the Heat-Bulls Eastern Conference Finals Sunday night, marking the most-viewed NBA game ever on cable TV. The audience for the telecast tops the previous record of 10.8 million viewers set during the net's broadcast of the '03 All-Star Game, which was the last one to include Michael Jordan. Heat-Bulls is also up 41% and 56%, respectively, from the net's comparable Lakers-Suns Western Conference Finals Game One last year, which aired on a Monday night (Austin Karp, THE DAILY). In Houston, Jonathan Feigen wrote ratings "have been setting records" because fans "seem to find the world a better place when the Heat lose, and they can't stop watching when they win" (CHRON.com, 5/16).

THUNDER STRUCK? ABC averaged 7.1 million viewers for Sunday's Thunder-Grizzlies Western Conference Semifinals Game Seven, up 1.6% from the comparable Game One of Celtics-Magic Eastern Conference Finals last year. But USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand wonders if the Thunder can "sell nationally" in the Western Conference Finals, which begin tonight against the Mavericks on ESPN. Postseason ratings "hinge on drawing casual fans who might not otherwise follow the sport" (USA TODAY, 5/17). In Oklahoma City, Mel Bracht notes KOCO-ABC earned a 23.4 local rating for the Thunder-Grizzlies game, "highest-rated NBA game on ABC" in the market (DAILY OKLAHOMAN, 5/17).

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