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Volume 24 No. 116
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Heat-Celtics Game Four Marks Cable TV's Best NBA Playoff Overnight Ever

ESPN earned a 7.9 overnight Nielsen rating for last night’s Heat-Celtics NBA Eastern Conference Finals Game Four last night, marking the best NBA Playoff overnight ever on cable TV, with records dating back to ’03. The game is up 39% compared to a 5.7 for last year’s Mavericks-Thunder Game Four on the net. Last night’s telecast peaked at a 10.7 rating during OT. In Boston, the game earned a 20.7 local rating, setting a record in the market for an NBA Playoff game. Meanwhile, the net earned a 5.6 overnight for Game Three of the series on Friday night, up 24% from a 4.5 overnight for the net’s Mavericks-Thunder Game Three last year.

WESTERN CONFERNCE: TNT is averaging a 4.6 fast-national rating and 7.2 million viewers through four games of the Spurs-Thunder Western Conference Finals. Those figures are up from ESPN’s Mavericks-Thunder WCF last year (4.3 rating, 6.9 million viewers through four games), but down from a 6.2 rating and 7.2 million viewers for TNT’s record-setting Heat-Bulls series. Despite the sharp drop from Heat-Bulls, TNT remains on pace for its second-best audience in 28 years of NBA Playoff games (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).

BREAKING THE MOLD:'s Ed Sherman writes ESPN has proved that its NBA studio show “can be done without a quote-unquote host.” “NBA Countdown” is a “contrast to TNT’s ‘Inside the NBA,’ where host Ernie Johnson has to steer through the goofiness often generated by Charles Barkley.” ESPN Senior VP & Exec Producer Mark Gross is “more than pleased with the new format.” Gross said, “This place is built on a risk. It shouldn’t be that difficult for us to take a risk on a pre-game show. It doesn’t have to look like every other show that’s out there. If you get the right four guys, it can work.” Gross added, “It works because they all get along. Two, they’re big basketball fans. Three, they all have something to say.” Gross: “There are a lot of shows where you want a host. You want to ask a specific question. … ‘NBA Countdown’ is different. What we’ve done works for this show” (, 6/4).

YES! In N.Y., Bob Raissman wrote NBC’s Mike Emrick deserves the attention he is getting with the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, but people should not forget “the magnificence of Marv Albert" working the NBA Western Conference Finals on TNT. Raissman: "Marveloso takes a back seat to no one. And he once was darn good calling Rangers hockey on the radio" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 6/2).

QUITE FRANKLY: In N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes although Stephen A. Smith and ESPN “consider Smith an NBA expert, his analysis betrays such a sell.” Mushnick: “He explains games in terms of which player takes the most shots, which should take the most shots and which scores -- or should score -- the most points. He seems to see/know nothing else” (N.Y. POST, 6/4).

In Oklahoma City, Mel Bracht noted TNT had some "technical problems" with its graphics during the Thunder-Spurs game on Friday, "which caused them to use the arena scoreboard and 24-point clock for a short period.” Albert also “announced the Spurs led 26-24 after the first quarter when the score was tied” (OKLAHOMAN, 6/2).