SBD/June 27, 2014/Media

ESPN Gets Record Overnight Rating For NBA Draft; Simmons' Analysis Draws Criticism

Thursday night’s telecast is up 19% compared to last year’s iteration of the draft

ESPN drew a 3.1 overnight rating for the NBA Draft on Thursday night, marking a record figure since ESPN began airing the event in ’03. The previous record was a 2.7 overnight for that first ’03 draft, which featured LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. Thursday night’s telecast also is up 19% compared to last year’s draft. Louisville led all markets for ESPN’s telecast with a 7.1 local rating, followed by Oklahoma City (6.3) and Memphis (5.4). Meanwhile, NBA Digital had record-setting domestic figures around the draft. NBA desktop and mobile platforms on Thursday night saw a 57% jump in unique users compared to last year’s event. Visits were up 46% and page views were up 32%. For the week of the draft, NBA Digital saw a 42% year-over-year jump for unique users. NBA mobile app uniques also were up 108% for the week (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).

PUMPED UP PICKS: ESPN’s Bill Simmons again served as an on-set analyst for ESPN’s coverage of the draft, and he again drew criticism from social media users. Simmons is a known Celtics fan, and he was caught on camera giving a fist pump after the team drafted G James Young with the No. 17 pick. Author Jeff Pearlman wrote, “Bill Simmons revolutionized online sports journalism. But I hate his cheerleading on TV. Not cute, not professional. Just poor stuff. … Really feel Simmons has singlehandedly ruined the craft of NBA analysis. This was once my favorite night of TV.” The Palm Beach Post’s Jason Lieser: “Bill Simmons just referred to the Celtics as ‘we.’ I don't get why you guys have such an issue with him.” Barstool Sports' David Portney: “How many times can Simmons say he's nervous as a punch line and wait for laughs?” The South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Omar Kelly: “Are you telling me the NBA draft is ONLY on ESPN? No NBA TV? So I'm forced to watch Bill Simmons? Help!” WFNZ-AM’s Frank Garcia: “Is there another channel to watch draft on I appreciate Bilas but can't stomach rose and Simmons.” Pro Football Talk’s Darin Gantt: “Who are the people who enjoy listening to Bill Simmons?” But Yahoo Sports’ Kelly Dwyer wrote, “Don't mind in the slightest Bill Simmons getting ‘caught’ with the fist bump. The days of expecting us to be Paul Gallico are over.” Meanwhile, former ESPN.com and SI.com writer Andy Glockner posted, “Twitter is killing Simmons for being a C's fan and for watching dudes on YouTube because Twitter is jealous of Simmons.”

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: In L.A., Ben Bolch notes while watching from home, C Joel Embiid was "initially shown with a disappointed expression" after he was picked by the 76ers with the No. 3 selection. However, ESPN must have "quickly realized they had been victimized by the vagaries of tape delay and replayed his immediate, smiling reaction" (L.A. TIMES, 6/27).
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