The NBA Playoffs are averaging 3.24 million viewers through 34 games across TNT, ABC, ESPN and NBA TV, up 15% compared to the same period last year. Close games have helped fuel the increase, with eight games going to OT and 14 games being decided by four points or less. TNT is averaging 3.83 million viewers through 19 games, up 21% compared to the same number of games during the ’13 playoffs. Warriors-Clippers Game 5 on Tuesday finished with 4.73 million viewers, marking the best first round NBA Playoff game on cable TV in ’14 to date. ESPN and TNT have won the night among all cable networks on nine of the 11 nights they have aired games. ESPN is averaging 3.34 million viewers through seven telecasts, up 17% from 2.9 million viewers at the same point last postseason. However, games on ABC (four telecasts) have averaged 5.1 million viewers, flat compared to ’13. NBA TV also has seen a big boost thus far, fueled by 939,000 viewers for Grizzlies-Thunder Game 5. That audience marks the net’s best audience on record (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).KEEPING PACE: In Indianapolis, Anthony Schoettle noted the Pacers' recent "on-court collapse hasn't hurt TV viewership," as the team's April 24 first-round playoff game against the Hawks drew a 9.9 local rating on FS Indiana, marking the "second-highest rated Pacers game" on the RSN. That figure only trails a 10.1 local rating for a Pacers-76ers second-round game in '99. Monday's Pacers-Hawks Game 5 drew a 9.2 rating on FS Indiana, which ranks as the fifth-highest-rated Pacers game on the net. During the regular season, the Pacers were one of the league's "highest performers" with a 100% increase over '12-13. The team averaged a 4.2 rating for the '13-14 regular season, which is the fourth-highest average for local broadcasts among all NBA teams. Meanwhile, FS Indiana Senior VP & GM Jack Donovan "doesn't think the late-season swoon will deter advertising demand for next season." Donovan said, "It's a long season and every team goes through slumps. But this is a young, talented team and we're expecting great things for next year." FS Indiana sold out its ad inventory during Pacers games this year, and Donovan "anticipates an advertising rate increase for next year," though he said that it is "too early to say how high" (IBJ.com, 4/30).
LOCAL BEATS: Fox SportSouth drew a 4.5 local rating in Atlanta for the Hawks' Game 5 win over the Pacers on Monday, marking the highest-rated game in the history of the RSN. The game peaked at a 6.7 rating between 10:30-10:45pm ET and passed the team's January 29, 2010 game against the Celtics, which finished with a 4.5 rating (FSN)....TSN drew 885,000 viewers for the Raptors-Nets Game 4 on Sunday, marking the second-best Raptors game audience ever on the net. That figure trails only the team's second-round, Game 7 loss to the 76ers in '01 (Bell Media). Through the first four games of the Raptors-Nets series, TSN has averaged 640,000 viewers (Raptors).