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

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For the second straight year, the NBA regular season on ABC was the highest rated and most-viewed since the network acquired the rights a decade ago.

Fifteen regular season NBA games averaged a 3.3 rating and 5.421 million viewers on ABC during the 2011-12* regular season, up 10% in ratings and 6% in viewership from last season (3.0, 5.110M), and up 44% and 47%, respectively, from the 2009-10 season (2.3, 3.694M).

This marks the highest rated and most-viewed NBA regular season on ABC (ten seasons), and the league’s top regular season on broadcast since the 1998-99* season on NBC (4.3, 5.601M).

Since the 2006-07 regular season, when ABC averaged a record low 2.0 rating and 2.880 million viewers, ratings and viewership for NBA coverage have increased or held steady for five consecutive seasons.

The highest rated and most-viewed telecast of the season was, not surprisingly, the Christmas Day Bulls/Lakers game (5.6, 11.014M), with Heat/Mavericks earlier in the day ranking second for the season (4.9, 9.023M).

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the lowest rated and least-viewed game of the season was Bulls/Thunder on April 1 (1.9, 2.869M). The game was the only NBA telecast on ABC this season to finish with less than a 2.0 rating, compared to two such telecasts last year and six two seasons ago.

Of the fifteen NBA games on ABC this year, thirteen drew at least four million viewers. By comparison, eight games hit that mark last season, and only three hit that mark two seasons ago.

Compared to other sports, the NBA on ABC easily outdrew the 2011 Major League Baseball season on FOX (1.8, 2.744M), the 2011-12 college basketball season on CBS (1.3, 1.9M) and the 2011-12 NHL season on NBC (1.0, 1.580M).

Average Ratings/Viewership For Select Sporting Events on Broadcast
^ CBS college football average is for SEC telecasts only
# NASCAR average includes 2011 Daytona 500

Season
League
Net
TCs Rating Viewers (000)
2011 NASCAR FOX
13#
5.0
8,600
2011 NCAAFB CBS
15^
4.2
6,857
2011 NCAAFB ABC
34
3.5
5,522
2011-12 NBA ABC
15
3.3
5,421
2011 MLB FOX
26
1.8
2,744
2011-12 NCAABB CBS
30
1.3
1,900
2011-12 NHL NBC
12
1.0
1,580

Ratings/Viewership For NBA on ABC
During 2011-12 season

Date
Time
Away
Home
Net
Rating Viewers (000)
Sun., 12/25/11 2:30 PM Heat Mavs ABC
4.9
9,023
5 PM Bulls Lakers ABC
5.6
11,014
Sun., 1/29/12 3:30 PM Bulls Heat ABC
3.5
5,699
Sun., 2/12/12 3:30 PM Bulls Celtics ABC
2.6
4,069
Sun., 2/19/12 1 PM Mavs Knicks ABC
3.8
5,916
3:30 PM Magic Heat ABC
3.4
5,496
Sun., 3/4/12
1 PM Knicks Celtics ABC
3.3
4,996
3:30 PM Heat Lakers ABC
4.3
6,997
Sun., 3/11/12 3:30 PM Celtics Lakers ABC
2.6
4,049
Sun., 4/1/12 1 PM Bulls Thunder ABC
1.9
2,869
3:30 PM Celtics Heat ABC
2.7
4,241
Sun., 4/8/12 1 PM Bulls Knicks ABC
2.3
3,447
Sun., 4/15/12 1 PM Heat Knicks ABC
2.8
4,088
3:30 PM Mavs Lakers ABC
3.0
4,490
Sun., 4/22/12 3:30 PM Thunder Lakers ABC
3.4
5,095

* The 2011-12 and 1998-99 NBA regular seasons were delayed and shortened due to owner-imposed lockouts.

(This year’s NBA averages from ESPN Media Zone; some additional information from Sports Business Daily)

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  • JakeFrankie

    Paulsen how many years has it been with NBA have higher National TV rated games on ABC over the MLB on Fox? NBA has a huge edge at the moment, But hasn’t it been going on for years?

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrea-Cavalli/757338131 Andrea Cavalli

      If my memory serves me right, I think it’s been since 2008. Don’t quote me on that, though. Paulsen will have the correct answer.

      • Paulsen

        Yes, the NBA on ABC has outrated MLB on FOX each year since 2007.

  • Bessilver

    Solid #’s for the NBA.  Great players, compelling matchups have all contributed to higher TV ratings.  Playoffs right around the corner.  Can’t wait!

  • Marlon Nicholson

    TheNBA ON NBC will always be the greatest of all time