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Volume 24 No. 114
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ESPN Earns 5.5 Overnight For Mavericks-Thunder Western Conference Finals Clincher

ESPN earned a 5.5 overnight Nielsen rating for last night's series-clinching Mavericks-Thunder NBA Western Conference Finals Game Five, flat compared to the comparable Celtics-Magic Game Five last year. The game earned a 20.6 local rating in Dallas-Ft. Worth, marking ESPN's best NBA rating ever in the market. The game also earned a 20.3 local rating in Oklahoma City (Austin Karp, THE DAILY). In Oklahoma City, Mel Bracht reported ESPN averaged a 27.0 local rating in Oklahoma City for Monday's Mavericks-Thunder Game Four, a franchise record rating. The mark "shattered" the previous record of a 25.1 for Game One of the series on May 17. Game Four also averaged an 11.5 local rating in Tulsa, setting a new record for the Thunder in that market (DAILY OKLAHOMAN, 5/25).

PERFECT RECIPE: TNT earned a 6.1 U.S. rating and 9.8 million viewers for Tuesday night's Heat-Bulls Eastern Conference Finals Game Four, up 24.5% and 27.9%, respectively, from a 4.9 rating and 7.6 million viewers for the comparable Lakers-Suns Western Conference Finals Game Four last year. Through four games of the Eastern Conference Finals, TNT is averaging a 6.2 rating and 10.4 million viewers, up 32% and 38%, respectively, from the first four games of the Lakers-Suns series last year (Karp). In N.Y., Michael Starr notes TNT's viewership for Heat-Bulls is "nearly 50 percent more than the first four games of last year's conference finals (Celtics-Magic), which averaged 7 million viewers on ABC and ESPN." The "big numbers are being driven by the big story in the NBA playoffs this year" -- Heat F LeBron James against Bulls G Derrick Rose. But the games also "have all been close," and Tuesday's Game Four "even went into overtime." Starr notes there is "talk" that the Heat-Bulls series "could draw more viewers than the championship series, which will start next on ABC" (N.Y. POST, 5/26).

In Ft. Worth, Mac Engel writes it is "hard not to like" ESPN studio analyst and Basketball HOFer Magic Johnson, but adds, "For the love of the English language, he really needs to stop talking." Engel: "Magic Johnson often makes Emmitt Smith sound like an English teacher. ... Does Charles Barkley butcher the English language on the same level as Magic? Yes. But at least he does it with a smile, a wink and laughs at himself" (, 5/26).