Heat-Spurs Game 5 Overnight Down 9.5%, But Continues NBA Finals Primetime Streak
ABC earned an 11.4 overnight rating for last night’s Game 5 of the Heat-Spurs NBA Finals from 8:00-11:00pm ET, down 9.5% from a 12.6 overnight for the series-clinching Heat-Thunder Game 5 last year, which aired on a Thursday night. Each game in the series to date has seen a ratings dip compared to Heat-Thunder last year. However, Game 5 will likely deliver ABC a win for the night and mark the 35th straight time an NBA Finals game has been the highest-rated program in primetime. Last night’s game peaked during the 10:30-10:45pm window in the fourth quarter with a 13.9. The game earned a 37.6 local rating in San Antonio and a 28.8 local rating in Miami-Ft. Lauderdale. Meanwhile, looking at national figures through four NBA Finals games, ABC is averaging a 9.0 rating and 14.8 million viewers, down 9% and 10%, respectively, from the same period last year (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).
CUTTING ROOM FLOOR: ESPN VP/PR Josh Krulewitz on Friday said the net has "had conversations" with NBA studio show co-host Bill Simmons following a pair of tweets he sent out criticizing ESPN following Heat-Spurs Game 4 Thursday night. In N.Y., Richard Sandomir noted Simmons “made a joke on ‘SportsCenter’ about Dwyane Wade, suggesting that his great game against the Spurs was the result of a quick trip to Germany, presumably for the same type of regenerative blood-spinning procedure that benefited” Lakers G Kobe Bryant. But the joke “did not appear on subsequent ‘SportsCenter’ replays.” Simmons then wrote on his Twitter account, referring to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, “Wow, SportsCenter edited my joke out about Wade going to Germany before Game 4 -- I should have just ripped people to shreds like SAS did.” Simmons soon after wrote on Twitter, “The rigidity of studio TV is really discouraging. Let’s just say that A LOT makes sense after these past 8 months.” Sandomir noted that “type of complaint could lead him to leave the program” (NYTIMES.com, 6/15). WEEI-FM's Gerry Callahan said of the tweets, “I love that, when you get a little feud. He’s mad that Stephen A. can say whatever he wants. ... That’s the old Simmons. That’s what you want. I miss that punk. That’s what made him what he is today.” WEEI's Kirk Minihane added, “That doesn’t surprise me that ESPN would knock that out though because they kiss ass for athletes.” Callahan: “ESPN is paying the NBA a fortune -- billions -- and yet ESPN is at the beckon call at the service of the commissioner. They should say, ‘Kiss our ass commissioner, go cash your check’” (“Dennis and Callahan,” WEEI- FM, 6/14). Simmons' future on "NBA Countdown" is uncertain, but SI.com's Richard Deitsch reports the ESPN management that oversees the show have "said on the record (including to me) that they are pleased with the quartet of Michael Wilbon, Magic Johnson, Jalen Rose and Simmons and would like to see them return" (SI.com, 6/17).
PLAN B FOR VAN G: ESPN Senior VP & Exec Producer Mark Gross said that the net has a "contingency plan” if analyst Jeff Van Gundy “departs for a head coaching job.” SI.com’s Richard Deitsch noted Gross “would not reveal the specifics.” Gross said, "We always have a backup plan but I am not at liberty to roll it out to you. ... When you are dealing with former coaches or GMs that might go back, you have to have a backup plan." Gross “wanted to make clear -- and no doubt he is being truthful here -- that he hopes Van Gundy stays at ESPN for many years” (SI.com, 6/16).