SBJ/February 18-24, 2013/Media

Thunder making noise with its RSN ratings

Editor’s note: This story is revised from the print edition.

As the NBA heads into the second half of its season, the Oklahoma City Thunder, residing in the nation’s 41st-largest TV market, is posting some of the highest local NBA ratings in at least two years.

Through the first half of the season, Thunder games on FS Oklahoma are averaging an 8.6 rating, more than 45 percent higher than the second-place San Antonio Spurs, which are posting a 5.9 rating on FS Southwest.

NBA teams’ RSN ratings and audience size at midseason

AVERAGE RATING
Top 5
Team RSN Avg. rating (Change*)
Oklahoma City FS Oklahoma 8.6 (+207%)
San Antonio FS Southwest 5.9 (-41%)
Miami Sun Sports 5.7 (+5%)
Utah Root Sports 4.7 (-16%)
L.A. Lakers TWC SportsNet 4.3 (-10%)
Bottom 5
Brooklyn YES 1.1 (+262%)
Atlanta SportSouth 1.0 (-21%)
Washington CSN Mid-Atlantic 0.9 (-32%)
Houston CSN Houston 0.9 (-63%)
Charlotte SportSouth 0.6 (-22%)
 
RATING CHANGE
Top 5
Team RSN Change* (Avg. rating)
Brooklyn YES +262% (1.1)
Oklahoma City FS Oklahoma +207% (8.6)
New York MSG +122% (3.4)
Golden State CSN Bay Area +69% (2.7)
L.A. Clippers Prime Ticket +56% (1.5)
Bottom 5
Boston CSN New England -35% (3.1)
San Antonio FS Southwest -41% (5.9)
Orlando FS Florida -54% (1.1)
Phoenix FS Arizona -63% (1.4)
Houston FS Houston -63% (0.9)
 
AVG. AUDIENCE SIZE
Top 5
Team RSN Avg. no. of Households (Change*)
New York MSG 254,000 (+137,500)
L.A. Lakers TWC SportsNet 234,800 (-24,000)
Chicago CSN Chicago 115,300 (-23,800)
Miami Sun Sports 91,900 (+6,500)
L.A. Clippers Prime Ticket 82,500 (+29,200)
Bottom 5
Indiana FS Midwest 21,200 (-3,600)
Houston CSN Houston 20,200 (-32,900)
Orlando FS Florida 15,500 (-18,200)
Milwaukee FS Wisconsin 13,600 (-1,600)
Charlotte SportSouth 7,200 (-2,200)

Note: Comparable data was not available for the Memphis Grizzlies (SportSouth), New Orleans Hornets (Fox Sports New Orleans), Sacramento Kings (CSN California) and Toronto Raptors (Sportsnet).

NA: Not available

* Changes compared to the same time period in 2010-11 season, the NBA’s most recent 82-game season. The lockout-shortened 2011-12 season did not begin until December.

Source: Nielsen

The Thunder’s 8.6 rating is up 207 percent from the team’s rating for the 2010-11 season, the NBA’s last full season.

“The formula is simple: The Thunder are one of the best teams in the league, Kevin Durant is one of the most marketable stars in the league, and the Thunder is the only professional sports team in Oklahoma,” said Jon Heidtke, FS Oklahoma senior vice president and general manager. “I’m not surprised by the TV ratings they’re pulling in.”

Overall, there were few surprises in the local market ratings analyzed for 26 of the NBA’s 30 teams.

The New York market has posted the biggest local ratings increases in the league. With the Nets relocating to Brooklyn, ratings for the team’s games on YES Network have jumped a whopping 262 percent from the 2010-11 season to a 1.1. Still, Nets ratings on YES are the fifth lowest rated in the league.

Knicks games on MSG are up 122 percent to a 3.4 rating from 2010-11. The Knicks’ average audience of 254,000 homes is the league’s largest, surging ahead of the second-place Lakers, which average 234,800 homes. The Knicks’ increase of 137,500 homes on average watching each game nearly matches the combined total audience for the bottom eight teams — the Suns, Hawks, Wizards, Pacers, Rockets, Magic, Bucks and Bobcats average 140,500 homes, combined.

The Bobcats’ average audience of 7,200 homes per game on SportSouth is the NBA’s lowest. The team’s 0.6 rating also is the NBA’s lowest and is down 22 percent from 2010-11.

Teams that have moved to new networks have seen ratings drops. In its first season on Comcast SportsNet Houston, the Rockets are tied with the Wizards for the second lowest rating in the league. Their 0.9 rating is down 63 percent from 2010-11, when games were on FS Houston. CSN Houston has had trouble getting distribution in the market, which has hurt ratings.

In its first season on TWC SportsNet, the Lakers are averaging a 4.3 rating, which is down 10 percent from the 2010-11 season, when games were on FS West.

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