SBD/April 23, 2013/Media

Columnist: NBA Playoffs "All About TV," As Drawn-Out Schedule Benefits Broadcasters

ESPN's Jeff Van Gundy said no team in the East can beat the Miami Heat
The NBA's "postseason crawl to June is all about TV," as games are "scheduled on days and nights that are most profitable" for Commissioner David Stern’s national TV partners, according to Bob Raissman of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. It has "nothing to do with what’s happening on the court or how it affects the product." That is apparently "a minor detail, a secondary issue." TNT and ESPN execs "want as many eyeballs on each and every telecast so they leverage the NBA to employ the 'spread offense' when scheduling the postseason." The philosophy is "if your team is not playing, you still will watch a game from another series," which "'spreads' the eyeballs around." NBA owners are "all for this because the league can continue charging the networks more for the rights to air these games in an elongated format." Meanwhile, ESPN's Jeff Van Gundy during the broadcast of Saturday's Celtics-Knicks Eastern Conference First Round Game 1 said, "No one in the East can beat the Heat. The drama will be in the NBA Finals." Raissman writes while Van Gundy's prediction "wasn't stunning, it was not exactly music to the ears" of Stern and the NBA's TV partners. Raissman: "This ain't what they wanted to hear on national television during the 2013 NBA playoff opener. They want the NBA postseason to be compelling TV, a three-month cliffhanger. Why bother watching when the only mystery is who is coming out of the West" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 4/23).

KEEPING THE FAITH: In Houston, David Barron wrote given the "one-sided nature" of the Rockets' loss to the Thunder on Sunday, viewers in the Houston market were "surprisingly faithful" in watching the game until the end. The game drew a 5.7 local rating on TNT and a 0.99 rating on Comcast SportsNet Houston. The CSN Houston audience "topped out" between 9:45pm and 10:15pm CT, then "dropped substantially before climbing back" at the end of the game. The TNT audience "topped out" between 9:45pm and 10:00pm (CHRON.com, 4/22).

BIGGEST FAN: ESPN L.A.'s Dave McMenamin wrote after Lakers G Kobe Bryant sent out "more than a dozen tweets during and after" the Lakers' opening playoff game against the Spurs on Sunday, he "vows he'll keep his 140-character contributions to himself come Game 2" tomorrow. Coach Mike D'Antoni on Sunday said of Bryant, "He’s a fan right now. He’s a fan, and you guys put a little more importance on that kind of fan. But he’s a fan. He gets excited and he wants to be a part of it so that’s good.” Bryant "made it clear he did not want to become a distraction." Bryant wrote on his Twitter account on Sunday, "I see my tweeting during the game is being talked about as much as the game itself. Not my intention , just bored as I guess #notagain" (ESPNLA.com, 4/22).
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