NBA Wrap: ABC Has Highest Rated, Most-Viewed NBA Season

Posted by | April 16, 2011 at 6:35 AM

The 2010-11 NBA regular season on ABC earned the league’s best numbers on broadcast television in over ten years.

Fifteen regular season NBA games averaged a 3.0 final rating and 5.110 million viewers on ABC this season, up 30% in ratings and 38% in viewership from last year (2.3, 3.694M), and up 30% and 39%, respectively, from 2008-09 (2.3, 3.684M).

This marks the highest rated, most-viewed NBA regular season on ABC since the network reacquired rights to the league in 2002. The previous highs were set during the 2002-03 season.

According to industry site Sports Business Daily, this season also ranks as the most-viewed on broadcast television since 1998-99, when NBC averaged 5.601 million viewers.

ABC concluded its regular season coverage with an Eastern Conference doubleheader last Sunday.

In the early game, Bulls/Magic earned a 2.0 final rating and 2.960 million viewers, up 43% in ratings and 48% in viewership from last year (ORL/CLE: 1.4, 2.002M). The marquee Celtics/Heat matchup drew a 2.9 and 4.603 million, up 71% and 75%, respectively, from last year (POR/LAL: 1.7, 2.627M).

Celtics/Heat fell just short of being the eighth game of the season on ABC to draw at least 3% of U.S. TV homes. Seven games hit that mark this season, the most ever for the regular season on ABC, and more than double last year’s full-season total of three.

Only two games on ABC this season drew less than a 2.0 rating, and both featured the Phoenix Suns. Last season, six games drew less than a 2.0.

ABC had a pair of milestones during the regular season, airing the most-viewed regular season NBA game since 2004 (MIA/LAL: 13.113M) and the most-viewed non-Christmas game since 2002 (LAL/BOS: 7.003M).

This is the fourth consecutive year that ratings and viewership for the NBA on ABC have either increased or held steady compared to the previous year. Compared to the 2006-07 season, ABC’s NBA numbers are up 50% in ratings (2.0 to 3.0) and 77% in viewership (2.880M to 5.110M).

For some perspective, FOX averaged a 1.9 and 2.7 million viewers for regular season Major League Baseball games in 2010, and NBC averaged 1.6 million for regular season NHL action during the 2010-11 season.

ABC was not alone in setting records for the NBA this season. TNT had its most viewed season in 27 years covering the NBA (details here), and ESPN had its most-viewed season since reacquiring rights to the league in 2002 (details here).

Ratings/Viewership For the NBA on Broadcast
Dating Back to 2001-02 Season

Ratings/Viewership For the NBA on ABC
During the 2010-11 Season


















Date Time Game Net Rating Viewers (000)
Sat., 12/25/10 2:30 PM BOS 78, ORL 86 ABC
4.6
8,657
5 PM MIA 96, LAL 80 ABC
6.4
13,113
Sun., 1/30/11 1 PM MIA 108, OKC 103 ABC
2.5
3,788
3:30 PM BOS 109, LAL 96 ABC
4.3
7,003
Sun., 2/6/11 2:30 PM ORL 80, BOS 91 ABC
2.3
3,711
Sun., 2/13/11 1 PM MIA 82, BOS 85 ABC
3.4
5,163
3:30 PM LAL 75, ORL 89 ABC
3.5
5,631
Sun., 2/27/11 2:30 PM LAL 90, OKC 87 ABC
2.4
3,683
Sun., 3/6/11 1 PM CHI 87, MIA 86 ABC
3.0
4,759
3:30 PM LAL 99, SA 83 ABC
3.2
5,120
Sun., 3/13/11 3:30 PM ORL 111, PHX 88 ABC
1.4
2,101
Sun., 4/3/11 1 PM PHX 97, SA 114 ABC
1.3
1,953
3:30 PM DEN 95, LAL 90 ABC
2.5
3,962
Sun., 4/10/11 1 PM CHI 102, ORL 99 ABC
2.0
2,960
3:30 PM BOS 77, MIA 100 ABC
2.9
4,603

(Season average from ESPN; NBC’s 1998-99 viewership from Sports Business Daily)