SBD/June 6, 2013/Media

Could Heat Matchup Reverse Trend Of Spurs' Poor NBA Finals Ratings?

The Spurs over the years have been "walking death" when it comes to Nielsen ratings for the NBA Finals, according to David Barron of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. This will be the Spurs’ fifth appearance in the Finals, and none have been "anything to write home about in terms of audience attraction." Barron: "I'll be really surprised if Heat-Spurs makes it into double digits" in ratings, given the Spurs' "lack of marquee attraction" (CHRON.com, 6/5). SI.com's Richard Deitsch wrote the "viewership momentum" from Heat-Pacers Eastern Conference Finals Game 7 should continue into the NBA Finals as the Heat "face a terrific Spurs team that has more television appeal than in previous years." Having the Heat as an opponent for the Spurs is "significant because the old school vs. new school storyline is something casual basketball fans can embrace." San Antonio is the 37th-largest TV market, but "what determines big ratings is often the length of a series." The Spurs also are "playing a more television-friendly brand of basketball" this season, so "expect the viewership numbers to be healthy" (SI.com, 6/5).

NBA FINALS AUDIENCE TREND (POST-MICHAEL JORDAN/BULLS ERA)
YEAR
NET
GMS
RATING
VIEWERS (000)
MATCHUP
'12
ABC
5
10.1
16,855
Heat-Thunder
'11
ABC
6
10.1
17,280
Mavericks-Heat
'10
ABC
7
10.6
18,144
Lakers-Celtics
'09
ABC
5
8.4
14,347
Lakers-Magic
'08
ABC
6
9.3
14,941
Celtics-Lakers
'07
ABC
4
6.2
9,289
Spurs-Cavaliers
'06
ABC
6
8.5
12,972
Heat-Mavericks
'05
ABC
7
8.2
12,544
Spurs-Pistons
'04
ABC
5
11.5
17,942
Pistons-Lakers
'03
ABC
6
6.5
9,864
Spurs-Nets
'02
NBC
4
10.2
15,678
Lakers-Nets
'01
NBC
5
12.1
18,996
Lakers-76ers
'00
NBC
6
11.6
17,402
Lakers-Pacers
'99
NBC
5
11.3
16,014
Spurs-Knicks
 

BATTLE ON THE BOARDS: AD AGE's Michael McCarthy noted the NBA "will start discussions with TV networks this summer and could make a decision" by '14 on its next national media contracts. The league's current deals with ESPN/ABC and TNT expire after the '15-16 season, making the NBA is "the only big-time brand coming up for bid in the next few years." Desser Sports Media President Ed Desser said that with new national sports cable networks such as Fox Sports 1 and NBC Sports Network "thirsting for live game programming, the NBA could boost its annual rights fees by 50% to 100%, if not more." Fox Sports Senior VP/Communications Lou D'Ermilio said, "We naturally would be interested in becoming a national partner with the NBA if and when the time comes." NBC Sports VP/Communications Chris McCloskey "confirmed it will be in the hunt." But McCarthy wrote ESPN and Turner "won't give up without a fight." ESPN has "proven it will spend whatever it takes to get the sports properties it wants for its multiple channels" (ADAGE.com, 6/5).

SOCIAL BUTTERFLIES: In L.A., Ben Bolch reported the Clippers on Tuesday were named the recipient of NBA TV's Fan Nation Award for the franchise's "increase in social engagement with fans across social media during last season." Clippers G Chris Paul and F Blake Griffin were "lauded for their efforts sharing video highlights, photos and other content across social platforms" (LATIMES.com, 6/4).
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