SBD/April 24, 2013/Media

NBA Audience Down From Record-Setting, Shortened '11-12 Season, But Remains Strong

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NBA viewership was down during the ’12-13 regular season, as audience numbers dipped compared to the record-setting, condensed ’11-12 season. However, this year still marks the second-best audience on record for a full (no lockout) regular season for ABC, TNT and ESPN, behind only the ’10-11 season. Excluding the lockout-shortened season of '11-12, NBA TV had its best audience.

TNT: After two straight seasons of record figures, TNT saw its average rating down 18% and viewership down 20%. In addition to a lockout-shortened season in ’11-12, several other factors helped contribute to the decline. Superstorm Sandy knocked out many homes in the Northeast at the start of the season. Some 16.9 million homes, including many in N.Y., Boston and Philadelphia, could not watch games during that time. TNT also did not have the benefit of a Christmas Day game this season. That telecast marked the net’s most-viewed game in ’11-12 (the season began on Christmas). Compared to the last non-condensed season in '10-11, TNT was down 13% in rating and 17% in viewership.

ABC/ESPN: NBA games on ABC saw a year-over-year ratings slide of 12% this season, while viewership dropped 14%. Last season, ABC had its best regular-season averages since ESPN acquired TV rights for the '02-03 season, and the best for any broadcast net since NBC during the '98-99 season, which was also shortened by a labor dispute. Compared to ’10-11, ABC’s ratings were down 3% and viewership was down 8%. Meanwhile, ESPN’s NBA ratings were down 8%, with viewership down 5%. The decrease came despite the net having its most-viewed Christmas Day tripleheader on record and highest Christmas Day figures in general since ’04. Compared to two seasons ago, ESPN’s rating was down 8%, with viewership down 11%.

NBA TV: The league-owned cable network saw ratings and viewership relatively flat compared to the record-setting numbers from last season. The net also kept up its youthful demo this season, with a median age of 35.1 marking the youngest of any sports net. Viewership this season was also up 33% from the ’10-11 season.

NBA REGULAR-SEASON AUDIENCE: '12-13 VS. '11-12
NET
GMS
RAT.
% +/-
VIEWERS (000)
% +/-
GMS ('11-12)
ABC
15
2.9
-12.1%
4,681
-13.7%
15
TNT
52
1.4
-17.6%
2,002
-19.9%
43
ESPN
77
1.2
-7.7%
1,768
-5.1%
73
NBA TV
98
0.2
0.0%
336
-0.3%
96
NBA REGULAR-SEASON AUDIENCE: '12-13 VS. '10-11
NET
GMS
RAT.
2-YR%
VIEWERS (000)
2-YR%
GMS ('10-11)
ABC
15
2.9
-3.3%
4,681
-8.4%
15
TNT
52
1.4
-12.5%
2,002
-16.5%
32
ESPN
77
1.2
-7.7%
1,768
-11.1%
73
NBA TV
98
0.2
0.0%
336
32.8%
96

TOP CABLE GAMES: The Heat and Lakers were again the top draws on national TV. Each team had five games in the top 10 most-viewed games on cable TV this season. TNT’s opening night doubleheader marked the two most-watched games of the season. Celtics-Heat led the way with a 3.4 U.S. rating and 5.4 million viewers. Three telecasts during the Heat’s 27-game win streak cracked the top 10 most-viewed telecasts. The end of the streak on ESPN against the Bulls on March 27 was the most-watched game during the streak with 3.9 million viewers. That game also marked ESPN’s fifth best NBA regular-season audience ever. NBA TV had four of its top five most-watched regular-season games ever this season. Leading the way was Lakers-Trail Blazers on Oct. 31, which was the net’s first game of the season (868,000 viewers).

'12-13 MOST-VIEWED NBA REGULAR-SEASON GAMES ON CABLE TV
DATE
NET
TEAMS
RATING
VIEWERS (000)
10/30
TNT
Celtics-Heat
3.4
5,371
10/30
TNT
Mavericks-Lakers
2.9
4,298
3/27
ESPN
Heat-Bulls
2.5
3,896
3/18
ESPN
Heat-Celtics
2.5
3,787
12/25
ESPN
Celtics-Nets
2.2
3,739
1/17
TNT
Heat-Lakers
2.3
3,547
2/14
TNT
Heat-Thunder
2.2
3,391
3/5
TNT
Lakers-Thunder
2.2
3,339
1/4
ESPN
Lakers-Clippers
2.1
3,086
11/2
ESPN
Clippers-Lakers
2.1
3,062

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