SBD/June 24, 2013/Media

Big Game 7 Rating Gives NBA Finals An Audience Increase Over Heat-Thunder In '12

ABC finished with a 10.5 rating and 17.7 million viewers for the seven-game Heat-Spurs NBA Finals, up 4% and 5%, respectively, from last year’s six-game Heat-Thunder series. The final audience was also the best for an NBA Finals since a 10.6 rating and 18.1 million viewers for the seven-game Lakers-Celtics series in ’10. Heat-Spurs saw a mixed bag for ratings among key adult male demographics. Compared to Heat-Thunder in ’12, this year’s series saw ratings among males 18-34 drop 6%. Figures among males 18-49 were flat, while males 25-54 saw a 3% gain. The average age among all viewers for the NBA Finals -- male and female -- was 41 years of age. For the 85 NBA Playoffs games across ABC, TNT, ESPN, ESPN2 and NBA TV, the average audience was a 3.4 rating and 5.3 million viewers, down 6% in both metrics compared to last season’s 3.6 rating and 5.6 million viewers. However, the NBA Finals were a big boost. Heading into the Heat-Spurs series, the NBA Playoffs were down 16% in rating and 15% in viewership. The unique viewership for the NBA Finals, which includes those who watched at least six minutes of a game, was 85.2 million viewers, marking the second-best figure on record behind '10 (90.6 million viewers).

NBA FINAL AUDIENCE TREND ON ABC
YEAR
GMS
RATING
VIEWERS (000)
MATCHUP
'13
7
10.5
17,667
Heat-Spurs
'12
5
10.1
16,855
Heat-Thunder
'11
6
10.1
17,280
Mavericks-Heat
'10
7
10.6
18,144
Lakers-Celtics
'09
5
8.4
14,347
Lakers-Magic
'08
6
9.3
14,941
Celtics-Lakers
'07
4
6.2
9,289
Spurs-Cavaliers
'06
6
8.5
12,972
Heat-Mavericks
'05
7
8.2
12,544
Spurs-Pistons
'04
5
11.5
17,942
Pistons-Lakers
         
FOR ALL THE MARBLES: ABC earned a 15.3 final rating and 26.3 million viewers for Game 7 last Thursday, marking the net’s second-best NBA audience on record, behind only a 15.6 rating and 28.2 million viewers for the Lakers-Celtics finale in ’10. The Spurs also played in a Game 7 in ’05, with their series-clinching win over the Pistons earning an 11.9 rating and 19.0 million viewers (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).

AUDIENCE TREND FOR NBA FINALS GAME 7
YEAR
NET
MATCHUP
RATING
VIEWERS (000)
'13
ABC
Heat-Spurs
15.3
26,319
'10
ABC
Lakers-Celtics
15.6
28,203
'05
ABC
Spurs-Pistons
11.9
18,997
'94
NBC
Rockets-Knicks
17.9
26,107
     


DIGITAL DISCOVERY: In Akron, George Thomas wrote the Finals might be remembered for the way "digital boomed across assorted platforms -- especially for Game 7." Data from Adobe SiteCatalyst indicated that ESPN3 during Game 7 "generated its largest NBA game ever with 189,000 people watching a total of 32 million minutes through PCs, smartphones, tablets, Xbox and the newly added Apple TV which acquired access to the WatchESPN app last week." There is a "shift, more than likely complementary, underway in the world of media." As live TV viewing "continues to wane, those mobile viewers will gain in importance." Events such as the NBA Finals "showcase the viability" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 6/22).

POSITION OF POWER: SI.com's Richard Deitsch wrote the NBA is in a "great negotiation position with its television partners given the final ratings of this year's NBA Finals and having its transcendent player (LeBron James) under the age of 30." Both ESPN and Turner Sports "want to extend their relationship with the league, and Fox Sports also has plans to make a run at acquiring NBA television rights." ESPN execs both publicly and privately have "emphasized how important the NBA is to their programming." It would be "stunning to see ESPN get outbid for the NBA." The "battle will be between Turner and Fox, though the NBA should be happy with how Turner has promoted its product" (SI.com, 6/23).

CHEMISTRY LESSON? In N.Y., Bob Raissman wrote if ESPN does "not want to totally blow up its 'NBA Countdown' studio show, the least it should do is dump Magic Johnson." His tenure on the show has "exposed him as an impediment -- a show stopper." Fellow co-hosts Michael Wilbon, Jalen Rose and Bill Simmons "did not turn in the kind of performance to make us forget the two guys (Jon Barry and Chris Broussard) whom the Bristol faculty ejected from 'Countdown' at season’s end." Wilbon is "steady but not spectacular," while Rose is "more about high volume than heavy insights." Simmons "often looks like he’s not even interested in participating in the conversation" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 6/23).

HELPING MAKE STRIDES IN CHINA: VARIETY's Clifford Coonan reported one of the biggest reasons for the NBA’s success in China "has been the way it has managed to access auds through the state broadcaster CCTV and other regional satellite stations." CCTV produced a "customized feed for all the NBA Finals games," plus "commentary and graphics in Mandarin." It also "captured footage for its weekly two-hour lifestyle show NBA Primetime." China’s Ningxia Satellite TV was "among the seven television and radio partners to air the NBA Finals for the first time." Fans also were "able to watch the Finals live online at Sina.com, which provided content and real-time fan interaction." The NBA has 58 million followers "on the league’s official Sina and Tencent microblog accounts." Meanwhile, China "sent 51 journalists to cover the NBA Finals" (VARIETY.com, 6/22).
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