NBA Finals' Positive Ratings Momentum Continues, As Game Two Is Up 12% From '11
Game Two of the Heat-Thunder NBA Finals Thursday night posted an 11.8 overnight Nielsen rating on ABC Thursday, up 12% from last year's Game Two overnight for the Mavericks-Heat series (10.5). Thursday night's rating were the second-highest Game Two overnight since ABC started televising the Finals in '03. Only the '04 Pistons-Lakers series had a higher Game Two overnight (12.3). The two-game Heat-Thunder overnight average of 11.8 marks an 11% increase from last year. Last night's game peaked with a 15.1 rating in the last quarter-hour (11:30-11:45), when the Thunder tried to complete another come-from-behind win. Ratings were highest in Oklahoma City (44.4 rating) and Miami-Ft. Lauderdale (30.3). ABC's "Kia NBA Countdown" pregame show posted a 3.8 overnight rating, up 9% from last year (John Ourand, THE DAILY).
HAVING A BALL: DAILY VARIETY's Rick Kissell reported the NBA Playoffs "dominated the primetime ratings race last week, with ESPN emerging as television's top-rated network among young adults for a second-straight week." ESPN's coverage of Heat-Celtics Eastern Conference Finals Game Seven on June 9 "was easily the week's top-rated program in both adults 18-49 (5.6/20) and total viewers (13.35 million)." TNT's coverage of Thunder-Spurs Western Conference Finals Game Six on June 6 "ranked fourth for the week in the demo" with a 4.1 rating and 9.5 million viewers (VARIETY.com, 6/13). SI.com's Ian Thomsen noted ratings of Heat games following the acquisition of LeBron James in '10 "went up last year, and they kept rising this year." Ratings for the '07 Spurs-Cavaliers NBA Finals "were far lower than they are five years later," now that James is "universally vilified as the opponent to the beloved Kevin Durant" (SI.com, 6/14).
SHOW BUSINESS: In Boston, Chad Finn writes the NBA Finals pre- and postgame shows "belong to ESPN's chemistry-challenged and host-free crew" of Michael Wilbon, Magic Johnson, Jon Barry and Chris Broussard. The "fundamental issues begin with Johnson's inability to articulate anything of much substance, and Wilbon's deference to him only exacerbates the problem." Johnson's "extraordinary charisma just does not translate to this format, and it never has." However, it "doesn't sound as though ESPN is planning changes to the format after this year." ESPN Senior VP & Exec Producer Mark Gross said, "We're really pleased with how it went all season, steamrolling into the Finals. So I think it's just basically exceeded our expectations." Finn writes it "makes one wonder where exactly the bar was set on those expectations, and whether his actions support his words once the season is over" (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/15). Meanwhile, in California, Jim Carlisle writes ABC/ESPN's "NBA Countdown" show "actually worked better than I thought it would; it certainly seemed to have the recipe for a disastrous, cacophonous free-for-all." Carlisle: "That often seems to be what TNT offers, even with a host" (VENTURA COUNTY STAR, 6/15).