EARLY OVERNIGHTS FOR "NBA ON NBC" HAS RATINGS DOWN 21%
For complete overnight ratings of the opening weekend
of the NBA playoffs on NBC, see (#29). MEDIAWEEK's John
Consoli reports that heading into the first round, NBC was
about 85% sold out of its playoff ad inventory, which
accounts for about 80% of the network's annual NBA ad
revenue. Turner Sports has sold about 90% of its NBA post-
season inventory. NBA is "slightly behind" last year's
sales effort, while Turner is "at about the same level as
last year." NBC's playoff inventory "is said to be
generating" 10% increases over last year (MEDIAWEEK, 5/10).
IS SMALL MARKET MATCHUP A NIGHTMARE? In N.Y., Mike Wise
wrote that a Pacers-Jazz NBA Final would be "a prime-time
nightmare" for NBC, as the two "small-market, veteran teams"
would "seem to point to fewer viewers." However, NBC
"contends that it is not playing favorites." NBC Sports
Chair Dick Ebersol: "I'm a big believer that for the finals
to work, you have to have stories. With Reggie Miller and
Larry Bird, you have ready-made stars." NBC Sports
VP/Information Ed Markey: "The two most important factors
-- in order -- are story line and length of series. Market
size is gravy" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/9). In Atlanta, Prentis
Rogers wrote that NBC and Turner "finally can loosen their
ties" because, "despite the lockout, the shortened season"
and the "underachieving" Lakers, the NBA's TV partners "have
arrived at the postseason with their core viewership
intact." But "both know the postseason is where success or
failure ultimately will lie" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 5/8).
GOING EASY ON THE HYPE, GIVING IT A REST: USA TODAY's
Michael Hiestand writes that NBC "deserves credit for
avoiding too much hype" during its telecasts of this past
weekend's first round NBA playoff games. Hiestand: "NBC
could have gone overboard in frantically trying to hook
viewers. Instead, it was credible" (USA TODAY, 5/10).