Game 2 of the Heat/Bulls Eastern Conference Finals fell short of the record numbers for Game 1, but still scored one of the top audiences ever for the NBA on cable television.
TNT earned a 6.1 U.S. rating and 10.036 million viewers for Game 2 between the Heat and Bulls Wednesday night, up 39% in ratings and 43% in viewership from last year (PHX/LAL G2: 4.4, 7.004M), and up 39% and 45%, respectively, from 2009 (ORL/CLE G2: 4.4, 6.910M).
Compared to Game 2 of last year’s East Finals on ESPN (BOS/ORL G2: 4.6, 7.156M), ratings and viewership increased by 33% and 40%, respectively.
Wednesday’s game ranks as the fourth-most viewed NBA game ever on cable television, behind Heat/Bulls Game 1 on Sunday (11.109M), the 2003 NBA All-Star Game (10.829M), and Cavaliers/Magic Game 4 in 2009 (10.075M). Including Game 5 of that Magic/Cavaliers series, LeBron James has now played in four of the five most-viewed NBA games ever on cable.
Game 2 also ranks as the seventh-most viewed NBA playoff game on broadcast or cable over the past ten seasons, excluding the NBA Finals.
The Heat/Bulls series stands as the most-viewed Conference Final through two games since at least 2001 (viewership prior to 2002 was not available), and the most-viewed ever on cable. For perspective, the 2002 Lakers/Kings series — the most-viewed Conference Final of the past ten seasons — averaged approximately three million fewer viewers through two games on NBC and TNT.
Overall, TNT has averaged a 3.2 U.S. rating and 5.126 million viewers for coverage of the 2011 NBA Playoffs, up 28% and 32%, respectively, from last year.
(Numbers from Turner Sports)