Larger numbers could have been expected, considering the quality of the teams, but TNT did well enough with Thursday’s high-profile NBA doubleheader.
Thursday’s Heat/Thunder NBA regular season game earned 3.4 million viewers on TNT, up 40% from Celtics/Bulls last year (2.4M), but down 28% from Lakers/Celtics in 2011 (4.7M).
Heat/Thunder ranks as the fifth-most viewed NBA game of the season on cable, trailing only Celtics/Heat (5.4M) and Mavericks/Lakers (4.3M) on TNT Opening Night, Celtics/Nets on ESPN Christmas Day (3.7M), and Heat/Lakers on TNT in January (3.5M). The season’s first meeting between the Thunder and Heat, which aired on ABC Christmas Day, earned 9.6 million viewers — the top NBA audience of the season on any network.
Last year’s regular season games between the Heat and Thunder drew 3.5 million viewers (March 25 on ESPN) and 3.0 million (April 4 on ESPN2).
Later Thursday night, the Clippers/Lakers nightcap drew 2.6 million viewers — up 51% from Clippers/Trail Blazers last year (1.7M), and up 28% from Mavericks/Nuggets in 2011 (2.0M).
TNT’s pre-All-Star Weekend doubleheader earned far better numbers last year — 5.1 million viewers for Knicks/Heat and 3.7 million for Lakers/Thunder. The 2012 All-Star break took place one week later in the season.
(Thu. numbers from TV By the Numbers)