ABC's coverage of the Thunder-Heat NBA Finals Game Five pulled a 12.6 overnight rating, even with last year's Mavericks-Heat NBA Finals Game Five. ABC earned a 40.3 overnight rating in the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale market, and a 39.8 in Oklahoma City. The five-game series averaged an 11.8 overnight rating, up 5% from last year's rating through five games. The Heat-Thunder matchup is the NBA Finals' highest five-game overnight rating average since '04. ABC's "Kia NBA Countdown" pulled a 4.6 overnight, up 12% over last year's Game Five pregame show. For the Heat-Thunder series, the pregame show averaged a 3.9 overnight rating, up 8% over last year's 3.6 overnight rating average through five games (THE DAILY).
MISSING OUT? ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser on Thursday said if the series were to end in five games, NBA Commissioner David Stern “can’t be at peace because he would miss Game Six and Game Seven which would be the highest-rated games of the series, they always are.” ESPN’s Michael Wilbon said, “Why would you be pleased with five (games), when you can have seven? Two more games of the advertising dollars brought in by games, that would be your highest-rated games” (“PTI,” ESPN, 6/21).
BEST OF THE BEST: In Oklahoma, Mel Bracht writes, "Among the best shots of the telecast was series MVP LeBron James jumping up and down in the closing minutes and poignant shots of Kevin Durant hugging his mother and brother and Thunder owner Clay Bennett hugging his players." ABC's Jeff Van Gundy "wrapped up the series with his usual strong performance, showing why he is the league's most entertaining game analyst" (OKLAHOMAN, 6/22).
GIVE ME A BOOST? In N.Y., Bill Carter noted ABC's "all-out commitment to pushing Jimmy Kimmel's late-night show during its coverage of the NBA Finals paid off last week with the best ratings for the show in five years, and a first: Mr. Kimmel topped both Jay Leno and David Letterman in the most important late-night ratings category," viewers ages 18 to 49. For the week, "Jimmy Kimmel Live" averaged 934,000 viewers in that group, "his best total" since October '07 (NYTIMES.com, 6/21).
YOUTH MOVEMENT: Fox Sports Media Group Chair David Hill said the 18-34 demographic had "disappeared a bit with the NBA, (but) they’ve come roaring back with the NBA.” Young adults “weren’t there for the NBA like five, six years ago.” Hill said the NBA’s “digital initiatives” are a big reason why the league “has drawn that audience sector back” (MULTICHANNEL.com, 6/20).
FAR AND WIDE: In N.Y., Harvey Araton notes the global reach of the NBA and writes there has been a “noticeable contraction in the way the league finals are covered by old print media at home, but also no disputing that the NBA universe continues to expand.” The "evolution of the sport is reflected in the foreign stars who play at the world’s highest level and by who watches, and why” (N.Y. TIMES, 6/22). Also in N.Y., Rob Mahoney wrote, "What began in a Christmas Day fervor has ended with a gift; an exhausting regular-season schedule was upstaged by riveting playoff theater, and has culminated in an unforgettable display of artistry and grandeur in the NBA finals." With the "brutal scheduling quirks of regular season filtered away, the NBA found itself again." Things "may not have been pitch-perfect from the start, but every bit of momentum and magnitude has been regrown in the triumphs of James and Durant, among others" (NYTIMES.com, 6/21).