The conventional wisdom goes that casual NBA fans — and there are a lot of them — don’t really pay attention until Christmas (and not seriously until after the Super Bowl).
Based on results so far in this lockout-shortened season, that seems about right. The NBA wiped out everything before Christmas and the league’s attendance and television viewship are up this season.
Here are the numbers, via Henry Abbott at TrueHoop.
The first 325 games of this NBA season averaged attendance of 17,094. That’s better than 89 percent of capacity, and a hair better than the first 325 games of last season, which averaged 17,057. …
• ABC has had just three games, so it’s hard to say anything conclusive, but the audience is up five percent compared to a year ago.
• ESPN viewership is up 23 percent.
• TNT viewership is up 50 percent.
• NBA TV viewership is up an insane 66 percent.
• NBA on regional cable sports networks are up 12 percent.
• Local over-the-airwaves broadcasts are up 36 percent.
Whew. I think we were all worried about those poor owners and if they’d be able to make their money back after all those concessions they had to give up during the lockout. Would they have enough money to put Foie Gras on their plate? Now we can all rest easy knowing they can sleep on ever-larger piles of money.
(Yes, I know that television ratings do not impact the teams’ bottom line immediately, but this is a sign of future larger broadcast rights deals. It also is a sign they may get more for sponsorships and other short term boosts because the fans came back.)
Apparently you do not hold a grudge.
It’s early and the schedule was front loaded with some compelling matchups, but so far television ratings and attendance numbers are up around the NBA. Lockout? What lockout?
The Los Angeles Times has the details.
The five Christmas Day openers produced healthy ratings on TNT, ABC and ESPN, as ABC drew 11 million viewers for the Lakers-Chicago Bulls game, its third-largest NBA audience ever. TNT’s average of 5.9 million viewers for the Boston Celtics-New York Knicks game made that the most-viewed NBA Christmas Day game on cable.
In addition, 25 of the first 32 games were sellouts, up from 19 of the first 32 last season. Chris Granger, the NBA’s executive vice president for team marketing and business operations, said fan-friendly initiatives helped teams play to 99.2% of capacity over the first 32 games, up from 90.3% for the full 2010-11 season.
Part of the reasons those games are selling is ticket discounts and other promotions to get people in the door. And the Christmas ratings were up because those were all compelling matchups.
But the NBA seems not to have lost its momentum after the NBA lockout. We’ll see how it builds through the season and into the playoffs, but more than one casual NBA fan has told me “they should start on Christmas every year.” So far, there seems to be no real backlash from the lockout.
America loves some good schadenfreude.
Miami Heat and LeBron James were on the brink of being knocked out and the nation wanted to watch, which is why the television ratings for Game 6 were the highest for a Game 6 in 11 years (the first of the Lakers three-pete titles with Shaq and Kobe).
(Look, I’d love to think America tuned in to watch the smart and efficient basketball of the Mavericks, that they finally get how special Dirk Nowitzki is, but frankly I don’t have that much faith in the American public. These are the same people who buy shape up shoes and watch the Kardashians.)
Game 6 generated a 15 rating (meaning about 15 percent of all television in the nation were tuned to the game), which is up from the 12.3 last year when traditional powerhouses (and larger television markets) Los Angeles and Boston were going at it. The 15 was the highest of any finals game this season and any of he first six from last season (Game 7 last year drew an 18.3).
That game caps off a playoffs and full regular season that saw ratings in the league up, saw interest in the league increase. There is a real momentum. It’s the one reason to hope the lockout gets solved before games are lost — that would kill everything that has been built. Both sides give lip service to that idea, but we’ll see what happens when the negotiations face deadlines.
This has been a good NBA playoffs for TNT. Well, except for watching Kenny Smith take a long walk to a dull but large video board. Aside that it’s been great.
TNT’s ratings are up 25 percent on the 33 games it has broadcast so far, reports Tom Ziller at SBN. That follows a patter of ratings being up through the regular season and in the first round as well compared to last year.
And it will only get better — TNT has the exclusive rights to the Heat vs. Bulls Eastern Conference finals starting Thursday night. That will be a ratings bonanza.
This is normally the part of the post where there would be some snide remark about Charles Barkley, but as he has been nailing his predictions these playoffs we’ll just keep our mouths shut.
Every time I get one of these stories, the stupidity of a long lockout hits me even harder.
All the networks carrying first-round playoff games saw a huge bump in television ratings, as reported at the Washington Examiner (via Ball Don’t Lie). It got a hold of TNT’s rating numbers and… damn.
This was the highest rated first round in cable television history.
TNT’s 23 First Round games delivered an average of 2.7 U.S. HH Rating, (+29%, 2.1 U.S. HH Rating last year), 4,179,000 Total Viewers (+32%, 3,174,000 last year) and 3,091,000 Households (+27%, 2,430,000 last year).
There were some advantages, like the New York Knicks and that market being back in the playoffs, but this is more than that. Ir follows a season-long trend. What’s more impressive is this is an across-the-board movement. Ratings were up more than 30 percent in all people under age 54 and all men’s categories under age 54.
What is more enticing to advertisers, people under age 34 in households making more than $100,000 was up 64 percent and the jump remained at 47 percent for ages 18 to 49, and 39 percent for ages 25 to 54.
So, lockout. Yup. Great idea.