As could be expected, last year’s NBA finalists averaged the highest local television ratings in the league during the 2012-13 regular season.
Fox Sports Oklahoma averaged an 8.65 rating for Thunder games during the 2012-13 regular season, according to Sports Business Journal — up 32% from last year (6.58), and the highest local average in the NBA. The 8.65 is the highest for any NBA team since the Spurs averaged an all-time NBA record 10.2 two years ago.
Ranking second for the season were the defending champion Heat on Sun Sports. Fueled by a 27-game winning streak in which games averaged a 9.1 rating, Sun Sports averaged a 7.07 for the 2012-13 season — up 7% from last year (6.59), and the highest average since LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined the team.
The Spurs, who led the local ratings race the past two seasons, ranked in third-place with a 6.44 average this year. That marks a 20% decline from last year’s 8.0, which was the second-best in team history.
The Lakers, as is typical, averaged the largest number of households during the regular season. Despite finishing in 7th place in the West, the team’s 4.64 rating on Time Warner Cable SportsNet was even with last year’s average on Fox Sports West. The Lakers crushed the Clippers, who averaged a 1.56 on FS West.
The Knicks were second in total number of homes, but the team’s 3.12 average rating on MSG Network declined 6% from last year’s record-high (3.30). Of course, considering how much hype the team attracted last season — not to mention the shortened 66-game slate — this year’s numbers are still impressive. As in Los Angeles, the more-established Knicks easily outdrew their crosstown rivals, pummeling the Nets on YES Network (0.96) by 225%.
Ranking fourth in homes, behind the Lakers, Knicks and Heat, were the Bulls. In large part due to the season-long absence of Derrick Rose, ratings for Bulls games on Comcast SportsNet Chicago dropped 44% — from last year’s 14-year high of 5.81 to a 3.23 this year.
Also on the decline this season were the Celtics, whose 2.92 rating on CSN New England marked a 10% decline from last year (3.24). According to Sports Business Journal, the Celtics’ average was the lowest since the 2006-07 season — the year before Kevin Garnett joined the team. By comparison, the Bruins averaged a 7.0 on NESN through the first half of the NHL’s abbreviated 48-game season.
Other notable averages from the 2012-13 season include the Warriors’ 2.85 on CSN Bay Area (+58%), the Rockets’ 1.05 on distribution-plagued CSN Houston (-34%), and the Bobcats’ 0.55 on SportSouth (-33%).