First Round Of NBA Playoffs Sees Viewership Decline 9% From '12
The first round of the NBA Playoffs averaged 2.96 million viewers for 45 games across ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, TNT and NBA TV, down 9% from 3.27 million viewers for 44 telecasts across the five nets during last year’s first round. ABC averaged 5.11 million viewers for its four telecasts. That is up slightly from five telecasts last season, which included Grizzlies-Clippers Game 7. ESPN averaged 3.1 million viewers for its nine first-round games, down slightly from its eight telecasts last season, when the net would go on to have it most-viewed playoffs on record. Games did see a 83% jump for average minute audience on WatchESPN. TNT saw a 10% drop for 24 first-round games, averaging 3.37 million viewers vs. 3.78 million viewers in ’12. The net aired a Game 7 on a Saturday night during both years, but last year’s Lakers-Nuggets finale (6.46 million viewers) significantly outdrew this year’s Bulls-Nets finale (4.44 million viewers). Since the beginning of the playoffs on April 21, TNT has ranked No. 1 among all cable networks airing sports programming in primetime. During the first round, TNT televised the seven most-viewed playoff games on cable and eight of the top 10. NBA TV’s five games averaged 304,000 viewers, down 35% from 469,000 for six games last year. NBA TV aired three games from the Pacers-Hawks series this year, with none of those games topping 200,000 viewers. The net had three games from Pacers-Magic last season, but only one of those games dipped below the 200,000 viewer mark. NBA TV did average 764,000 for Heat-Bucks Game 2 on April 23, marking the net's third best playoff audience on record (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).
SWAY OF THE HARD COURT: Turner Entertainment Networks President Steve Koonin said TNT's "Inside the NBA" studio show is "virtually a perfect sports show." Koonin said, "Our sports group has really delivered something that is very unique and it is personally one of my favorite shows on all of TV. Charles Barkley is a breakout star; Kenny Smith and Ernie Johnson are a very engaging combination. With the addition of Shaquille O’Neal this season, we have taken something great and made it even better" (ATLANTA BUSINESS CHRONICLE, 5/3 issue).