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Volume 21 No. 47
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Spurs reign over NBA in local TV ratings

The team with the best record in the NBA’s Western Conference also was crowned the league’s local TV champion this year. The San Antonio Spurs finished the season with a 10.19 local rating for its games on FS Southwest, up 52 percent from last year’s mark.

The Spurs’ local TV rating more than doubled that of the high-profile Miami Heat, which saw its local ratings on Sun Sports nearly double to a 4.94 average, third-best in the league. Thanks largely to the arrival of superstar LeBron James, the Heat posted a whopping 99 percent increase in its average rating from last season.

The Utah Jazz posted the No. 2 average rating, at 5.60, up 1.8 percent from last year.

Conversely, the team James left, the Cleveland Cavaliers, saw the biggest yearly ratings drop in at least seven years. Last year’s local ratings leader, the Cavs saw ratings on FS Ohio drop 54 percent. The team’s 3.93 average rating still was seventh highest in the league.

Overall, the local ratings story was a good one for the league. Fourteen of the 28 teams that SportsBusiness Journal obtained ratings on saw double-digit increases, including big market teams like the Los Angeles Clippers (up 130 percent on Prime Ticket), Chicago Bulls (up 91 percent on CSN Chicago) and New York Knicks (up 89 percent on MSG).

Ratings for the New Orleans Hornets and Toronto Raptors were unavailable.

“We expected ratings growth but we didn’t expect to double the ratings,” said Jim Corno, president of Comcast SportsNet Chicago. “[Interest in the Bulls] has gone beyond the avid fan to the casual fan, and people are now seeking out the games. Interest is getting pretty close to when we had Michael [Jordan] and Scottie [Pippen.]”

Not surprisingly, the big market clubs also had the biggest average audiences. Los Angeles Lakers games on FS West had the biggest audiences (271,000 homes), followed by the Bulls (157,000), Knicks (138,000) and Boston Celtics (116,000 on CSN New England).

For the second consecutive year, the New Jersey Nets were the league’s lowest-rated team. The Nets’ 0.29 average rating on YES Network was more than three times below the next lowest rating: the Clippers’ 0.99 local rating.

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Staff writer John Lombardo contributed to this report.