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Volume 21 No. 39
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Warriors sweep local TV ratings

Editor’s note: This story is revised from the print edition.

The Golden State Warriors’ march to 73 wins gave them not only a regular-season record for victories this year, but also a triple crown of sorts for local TV ratings: the top average rating among all NBA teams for the season, the biggest year-over-year rating increase, and the largest average viewership per game.

The Golden State Warriors, led by Steph Curry, have seen gains in local viewership six consecutive years.
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
This marks the sixth consecutive year the Warriors have seen gains in local viewership — the first time any NBA or NHL team has seen six straight years of ratings gains.

Warriors games on CSN Bay Area averaged a 9.76 rating (243,000 homes) this season, a whopping 160 percent increase from last year’s average rating. For their season finale, when they won their league-record 73rd game, the team drew a huge 23.2 rating on CSN Bay Area, a number the RSN said is the highest for any NBA regular-season game across any RSN.

CSN Bay Area’s top three telecasts are now all Warriors games from this season.

“Our market bucks the trends,” said Warriors President and COO Rick Welts. “What is different is beyond the wins and losses is a combination of style and play that attracts people, but also the personalities of the individuals that is bringing people to NBA basketball [in] this market and other markets. There is a certain vibe that this team gives off in how they play.”

The Cleveland Cavaliers (9.31 rating on FS Ohio) and San Antonio Spurs (8.71 rating on FS Southwest) joined the Warriors at the top of the RSN ranking for the season. It’s the first time in at least 10 years that three NBA clubs have posted a season ratings average above an 8.0.

The Cavaliers’ local TV rating is the highest ever recorded for the team.

SportsBusiness Journal analyzed ratings data for teams across the NBA; information for Memphis, Utah and Toronto was not available.

While the stories were strong in Golden State, Cleveland and San Antonio, such was not the case leaguewide. In fact, 17 of the 27 teams measured saw year-over-year declines in their local ratings this season.

The Atlanta Hawks registered the league’s biggest decrease, despite making another playoff run. Hawks games on FS Southeast averaged a 1.2 rating, down 45 percent from last year — though that average is on par with Hawks ratings in recent years. Before their 2.18 average for 2014-15, the Hawks’ average rating in the six seasons prior ranged between a 0.97 and a 1.4.

In Los Angeles, Kobe Bryant’s final season did nothing to help Lakers ratings on TWC SportsNet. The team’s 1.51 rating (83,000 homes) was down 3 percent from 2014-15, setting a historic low for a third consecutive season.
TWC SportsNet launched with Lakers rights for the team’s 2012-13 season.

Brooklyn Nets games on YES Network were the league’s lowest-rated games for the second straight year and seventh time in the last nine years. Nets games averaged a 0.46 rating (34,000 homes).

Meanwhile, Dallas Mavericks games on FS Southwest dropped to their lowest point since the 2008-09 season. This season’s 1.58 average rating for Mavs games was down 35 percent from last year as the team saw its record dip to 42-40 this season compared with 50-32 last year.

NBA Team RSN Ratings

AVG. RATING

TOP 5
TEAM RSN AVG. RATING (CHANGE*)
Golden State Warriors CSN Bay Area 9.76 (+160%)
Cleveland Cavaliers FS Ohio 9.31 (+17%)
San Antonio Spurs FS Southwest 8.71 (+4%)
Oklahoma City Thunder FS Oklahoma 6.70 (-6%)
Miami Heat Sun Sports 4.50 (-9%)
Bottom 5
TEAM RSN AVG. RATING (CHANGE*)
Philadelphia 76ers CSN Philadelphia 0.93 (+40%)
Charlotte Hornets FS Southeast 0.87 (-12%)
Washington Wizards CSN Mid-Atlantic 0.86 (-34%)
Denver Nuggets Altitude 0.80 (-4%)
Brooklyn Nets YES Network 0.46 (-6%)

AVG. RATING CHANGE

TOP 6
TEAM RSN CHANGE* (AVG. RATING)
Golden State Warriors CSN Bay Area +160% (9.76)
Orlando Magic FS Florida +63% (1.32)
New York Knicks MSG +58% (1.98)
Philadelphia 76ers CSN Philadelphia +40% (0.93)
Cleveland Cavaliers FS Ohio +17% (9.31)
Minnesota Timberwolves FS North +17% (1.35)
Bottom 5
TEAM RSN CHANGE* (AVG. RATING)
New Orleans Pelicans FS New Orleans -32% (1.23)
Washington Wizards CSN Mid-Atlantic -34% (0.86)
Dallas Mavericks FS Southwest -35% (1.58)
Chicago Bulls CSN Chicago -37% (2.96)
Atlanta Hawks FS Southeast -45% (1.20)

* Compared with 2014-15 season.
Notes: Information for Memphis, Utah and Toronto was not available.
Source: SportsBusiness Journal analysis of Nielsen data