NBA playoffs see record ratings

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Here is another reason that the momentum-killing lockout is going to be such a disaster.

The opening weekend of the NBA playoffs got the highest first-weekend ratings ever on TNT, according to Sports Media Watch. That follows on the footsteps of regular season ratings that were the highest since the Jordan era.

TNT averaged a 2.8 U.S. rating and 4.542 million viewers for NBA Playoff coverage on Sunday, up 27% in ratings and 36% in viewership from last year (2.2, 3.336M), and the most-viewed opening day of the playoffs ever on Turner Sports.

In particular, Sunday’s Knicks/Celtics Game 1 drew a 3.6 U.S. rating and 5.989 million viewers, up 44% in ratings and 53% in viewership from last year (SA/DAL G1: 2.5, 3.925M), and up 64% and 86%, respectively, from 2009 (MIA/ATL G1: 2.2, 3.228M).

The Celtics’ win drew more viewers than every single first round playoff game — on broadcast or cable — last season.

The lockout will kill this. Just flat out kill it. And while I’d say the owners and players are aware of the damage, that is different than saying either side is willing to budge off their respective positions to avoid it.