ABC's Heat-Mavericks Opener Marks Best NBA Finals Game One Overnight Rating Since '04
ABC earned a 10.7 overnight Nielsen rating for last night's Mavericks-Heat NBA Finals Game One, marking the best NBA Finals opener since Pistons-Lakers in '04 earned an 11.5 overnight. Last night's game is up 3% from a 10.4 overnight for Lakers-Celtics Game One last year and also up 15% from a 9.3 overnight for the Heat-Mavericks opener of the '06 Finals. Miami-Ft. Lauderdale topped all U.S. markets with a 31.9 local rating, while Dallas-Ft. Worth finished second with a 29.9 rating (Austin Karp, THE DAILY). MULTICHANNEL NEWS’ Mike Reynolds wrote Mavericks-Heat “shapes up about as well as ABC could have hoped for, short of another rematch” between the Lakers and Celtics. Reynolds: “Given the quality of the matchup and the record-setting ratings’ performance of the regular season and postseason thus far -- not to mention the looming labor situation that could make this the last bit of pro ball anyone’s going to see for a while -- one would think that fans will be engaged for the ultimate roundball revue.” The ’06 Heat-Mavericks Finals averaged 12.9 million viewers over six games, and Reynolds wrote that mark “should fall handily -- unless, of course, it’s a blowout” (MULTICHANNEL.com, 5/31). In N.Y., Bob Raissman wrote the matchup and the “Heat-hate factor should turn the Finals into a ratings bonanza” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 5/29).
BACK TO THE GLORY DAYS: ESPN's Michael Wilbon wrote with the Heat and F LeBron James in the Finals, the series "has a chance to be the highest-rated and most-viewed" since Rockets-Magic in '95 or Bulls-Trail Blazers in '92, which marked Michael Jordan's second Finals appearance. Wilbon: "If it's too soon to say the NBA is in the middle of a full-fledged renaissance, at the very least the league has seen a resurgence, probably even an explosion. And it's entirely because of LeBron James. ... LeBron -- at least temporarily, and probably for the next few years -- has done for interest in the NBA what Tiger Woods did for interest in professional golf. LeBron and the Heat have become the tide that floats all boats." Wilbon wrote “The Decision” was “roundly criticized by virtually everybody, but it was exactly -- flaws and all -- what the NBA needed.” From the time that program took place, “more people cared about professional basketball in America than at any time since Jordan retired from the Bulls in 1998” (ESPN.com, 5/31).
THAT PESKY LOCKOUT: USA TODAY’s Michael McCarthy wrote the NBA’s “popularity and buzz is at levels not seen since the heyday of Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls, Magic Johnson’s Los Angeles Lakers and Larry Bird’s Boston Celtics.” But he added, “Instead of basking in its success, … the $4 billion industry is poised to plunge into the same labor abyss as the NFL because billionaire owners and millionaire players can’t agree on how to slice the pie” (USA TODAY, 5/31). Cavaliers G Anthony Parker: “You look at this postseason and the record numbers of people tuning in -- the ratings are at an all-time high. We have new blood, new faces emerging in the playoffs like Derrick Rose, a young star, and Kevin Durant. … It would be a shame to bring this to a halt” (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 5/29). In N.Y., Mitch Lawrence wrote the NBA is “riding high now, with great TV ratings and some of the best playoff moments in years.” Lawrence: “But off on the not-too-distant horizon, everyone sees the same ominous clouds in the form of an owners’ lockout.” Heat G Dwyane Wade: “The game is doing great. We’ve been a part of the most-watched games in NBA history. NBA basketball is in its best (shape) it’s been in a long time. We want to keep that going and we don’t want to see that so-called lockout” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 5/30). TNT's Charles Barkley: "We are on a roll. The ratings are through the roof. Why would you shoot yourself in the foot by going on strike or locking out? Sometimes you just wonder, man” (“NBA Game Time,” NBA TV, 5/31).