SBJ/Feb. 17-23, 2014/Media

Despite L.A., NBA local TV numbers good

The NBA’s local TV ratings look a lot like the league’s standings at the halfway point of this season, with good numbers in Oklahoma City and disappointment in Los Angeles.

Coming off a year in which the Thunder posted the NBA’s best RSN ratings, OKC’s games on FS Oklahoma once again are the league’s highest. The Western Conference’s top team has averaged an 8.80 rating so far this season, easily outdistancing its NBA rivals.

Meanwhile, the ratings story in Los Angeles has not been positive. In the Lakers’ second year on TWC SportsNet, the team has seen the NBA’s second-biggest drop in ratings for their games. One of sport’s marquee franchises has seen its games average a 2.72 rating, down a whopping 37 percent from the season’s midpoint last year. Only the Milwaukee Bucks have seen a steeper percentage drop. The last-place Bucks have seen their local ratings drop 67 percent, and the team is averaging a league-low 5,000 homes for each telecast, the NBA’s lowest figure in at least six years.

NBA TEAMS’ RSN RATINGS

HIGHEST AVG. RATING
TEAM RSN AVG. rating
(Change from
midseason
2012-13)
Oklahoma City Thunder FS Oklahoma 8.80 (+5%)
San Antonio Spurs FS Southwest 7.33 (+22%)
Miami Heat Sun Sports 6.85 (+23%)
Indiana Pacers FS Midwest 4.30 (+139%)
Portland Trail Blazers CSN Northwest 4.27 (+51%)
 
TOP VIEWERSHIP COUNTS
TEAM RSN AVG. rating
(Change from
midseason
2012-13)
New York Knicks MSG 169,000 (-34%)
Los Angeles Lakers TWC SportsNet 154,000 (-37%)
Miami Heat Sun Sports 114,000 (+23%)
Chicago Bulls CSN Chicago 105,000 (-11%)
Golden State Warriors CSN Bay Area 79,000 (+15%)
 
BIGGEST RATINGS GAIN
TEAM RSN AVG. rating
(Change from
midseason
2012-13)
Indiana Pacers FS Midwest 4.30 (+139%)
New Orleans Pelicans FS New Orleans 2.03 (+59%)
Portland Trail Blazers CSN Northwest 4.27 (+51%)
Phoenix Suns FS Arizona 2.00 (+41%)
Houston Rockets CSN Houston 1.21 (+38%)

Note: Comparable data was not available for Memphis (SportSouth), Utah (Root Sports Utah) and Toronto (Sportsnet). Source: Nielsen

The Lakers’ drop has come while the team has suffered through a poor season on the court, and star player Kobe Bryant hasn’t played since the middle of December because of injury. But it’s not just the Lakers who have seen a decline in Los Angeles. Clippers games on Prime Ticket have posted a 15 percent drop, to a 1.28 average, and that’s despite the team being a division leader.

Overall, the NBA is doing well locally this season, posting increases with 16 of the 27 teams for which SportsBusiness Journal received Nielsen data. Nationally, ESPN’s ratings are flat (1.2 average), but ABC’s are down 19 percent (3.1 average).

Perhaps the league’s best local TV story is in Indiana, where the Pacers’ success on the floor has been reflected in the local ratings. The team’s games have posted the NBA’s biggest increase, up 139 percent from the same point last year. The Golden State Warriors also are posting good numbers. The team’s 3.13 rating on CSN Bay Area continues a trend of ratings increases that has seen the club’s average double since the 2010-11 season.

San Antonio continues to shine, as well. Spurs games are averaging a 7.33 rating on FS Southwest, keeping the club in its annual position among the league’s RSN leaders. When Spurs games on local over-the-air broadcasters are included, the team’s average rating is 8.1. The 11 games on KENS-CBS have averaged a 10.6 rating, and the two games on KMYS-CW35 averaged an 8.0 mark.

“Historically, our numbers begin to increase from late January on, so the current numbers may have some more upward growth,” said Lawrence Payne, executive vice president of partnerships, broadcasting, branding and content, Spurs Sports & Entertainment.

Rockets games on CSN Houston are up 38 percent this year, but the team’s 1.21 rating is still only half what the team posted during the 2010-11 season, when FS Houston carried the club’s games. CSN Houston continues to have problems getting carriage in the market and is in the middle of bankruptcy proceedings.

Charlotte is another tough market this season. Despite the Bobcats’ more-competitive play so far this year, the team’s telecasts have only slightly improved. The Bobcats are averaging just 9,000 homes per game, the NBA’s second smallest audience. Last year at this time, the team was averaging 7,000 homes per game.

Research director David Broughton contributed to this report.

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