TNT Up Big With Heat-Bulls NBA Eastern Conference Finals Opener
TNT earned a 7.4 overnight Nielsen rating for last night's Heat-Bulls NBA Eastern Conference Finals Game One from 8:03-10:37pm ET, up 40% from a 5.3 overnight for the net's comparable Lakers-Suns Western Conference Finals Game One last year, which aired on a Monday night. Heat-Bulls Game One is also up 34.5% from the comparable Celtics-Magic Game One on ABC last year, which aired on a Sunday afternoon. Heat-Bulls earned a 24.3 local rating in Chicago and a 2.3 rating in Miami-Ft. Lauderdale. Cleveland-Akron ranked fourth among all metered markets with a 10.5 local rating. The rating for ABC's coverage of the Thunder-Grizzlies Western Conference Semifinals Game Seven yesterday was not available at presstime (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).
OPRAH'S NOT THAT POWERFUL: In N.Y., Howard Beck reported rumors that Oprah Winfrey has "bumped the playoffs" from United Center are untrue. Winfrey "will occupy the arena the next two days to set up and tape a farewell show," with Heat-Bulls Game Two scheduled for Wednesday. The Eastern Conference Finals were scheduled to begin Wednesday, but because "both Eastern Conference semifinals series finished early ... Game 1 was moved up to Sunday." The "earliest Game 2 can be held is Wednesday, because Tuesday is reserved for the Western Conference finals." Television contracts do "dictate some of this," as ESPN and ABC are airing the Western finals this year and were "guaranteed the Tuesday slot." NBA Senior VP/Basketball Communications Tim Frank said Tuesday "was never on the table for the East." He added Winfrey's show "wasn't a factor" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/14).