SBD/June 3, 2014/Media

NBA Playoff Audience Up Going Into Finals; ESPN, TNT Primetime Strong During Playoffs

Despite a slight decline for the Conference Finals, the audience for the NBA Playoffs overall remains up over last year. The NBA Conference Finals across ABC/TNT/ESPN averaged 7.0 million viewers for 12 telecasts, down 2.2% from 7.15 million viewers last year for 11 telecasts. All playoff games across ABC/TNT/ESPN/ESPN2/NBA TV have averaged 4.29 million viewers, up 2.7% from 4.18 million viewers at the same point last season. NBA postseason games have been the top-rated program on all of cable TV on 33 of 39 nights that ESPN or TNT has carried a game. TNT also has won the night 20 times across all cable nets during the playoffs, as well as 24 times among key adult male demos.

HEAT STROKE: ABC and ESPN combined to average a 4.5 rating and 7.23 million viewers for the six games of the Heat-Pacers Eastern Conference Finals, marking ABC/ESPN's second-best Conference Finals audience on record. While the figures this year are down from the seven-game Heat-Pacers series on TNT last season, the audience is up big from a 3.1 rating and 4.90 million viewers for the Spurs’ sweep of the Grizzlies in the '13 Western Conference Finals. In '12, ESPN alone averaged a 6.2 rating and 10.14 million viewers for the seven-game Heat-Celtics series. ESPN, which carried Games 2-6 this year, won the night among all key male demos and people 18-34 all five nights. During Games 3 and 4, ESPN won the night among all cable and broadcast nets.

NBA EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS AUDIENCE
YEAR
MATCHUP
GAMES
NETWORK
RATING
VIEWERS (000)
'14
Heat-Pacers
6
ABC/ESPN
4.5
7,234
'13
Heat-Pacers
7
TNT
5.2
8,398
'12
Heat-Celtics
7
ESPN
6.2
10,144
'11
Heat-Bulls
5
TNT
6.2
10,413
'10
Celtics-Magic
6
ABC/ESPN
4.5
7,116






A MILLION WAYS TO FLY IN THE WEST: TNT finished with a 4.2 rating and 6.76 million viewers for the Spurs’ Western Conference Finals win over the Thunder in six games. Those figures are up big from the Spurs’ sweep of the Grizzlies last year on ABC/ESPN. TNT last season carried Heat-Pacers, which drew a 5.2 rating and 8.40 million viewers. TNT in '12 carried the six-game Thunder-Spurs Western Conference Finals, drawing a 5.0 rating and 7.82 million viewers. Five times during this year’s Spurs-Thunder series, TNT had the top two sports programs of the day on all of TV -- each game telecast and the “Inside The NBA” studio show the followed it. TNT also saw gains across all male demos during this year's series (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).

NBA WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS AUDIENCE
YEAR
MATCHUP
GAMES
NETWORK
RATING
VIEWERS (000)
'14
Spurs-Thunder
6
TNT
4.2
6,763
'13
Spurs-Grizzlies
4
ABC/ESPN
3.1
4,898
'12
Thunder-Spurs
7
TNT
5.0
7,823
'11
Mavericks-Thunder
5
ESPN
4.3
6,939
'10
Lakers-Suns
6
TNT
4.8
7,854
           

A SOUND OF THUNDER: In Oklahoma City, Mel Bracht noted TNT's coverage of Spurs-Thunder was a "hit nationally," but local ratings were down from the Thunder's last Conference Finals appearance in '12. The ratings this year in Oklahoma City were down 13% from '12, when the Thunder defeated the Spurs in six games. Oklahoma City averaged a 24.5 rating this year, down from a 28.3 average in '12. Coverage of Spurs-Thunder Game 6 earned a 29.3 local rating in San Antonio and a 25.2 in Oklahoma City (NEWSOK.com, 6/2).

BATTIER TO THE BOOTH: THE BIG LEAD's Jason McIntyre cited sources as saying that Heat F Shane Battier has "agreed to a multi-year TV deal with ESPN to be a college basketball analyst next season." It is unclear yet if ESPN will use Battier "as a game analyst, in the studio, or on the set of College Gameday, which is being revamped" (THEBIGLEAD.com, 6/2). In Ft. Lauderdale, Christy Chirinos notes Battier already has "some experience in front of the camera for ESPN." Battier last June was part of the net's coverage of the NBA Draft, "interviewing  players shortly after their selections." Heat G James Jones said Battier "knows the game inside and out. I don't think there's anyone that's embraced analytics and the details of the game like Shane. That makes him uniquely positioned to be great at ESPN doing college games" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 6/3).

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