NBA Playoffs: Saddled With Weak Schedule, ABC Enters Finals With Declines

Posted by | May 24, 2013 at 8:59 PM

A lackluster playoff schedule led to modest declines on ABC.

ABC averaged a 3.4 rating for early round NBA playoff coverage (9 telecasts), down 8% from last year (3.7), and down 19% from 2011 (4.2). Of the seven windows on ABC that could be compared to last year, five had declines in both ratings and viewership.

The highest rated playoff game on ABC was Pacers/Knicks Game 1 on May 5 (3.9), and the most-viewed was Heat/Bucks Game 4 on April 28 (5.997M). By comparison, ABC’s top telecast before the Finals last year was Heat/Pacers Game 4, which had a 4.8 rating and 7.6 million viewers.

Of note, ABC aired more games involving the Spurs (3), Pacers (2) and Grizzlies (2) this postseason than games involving the Lakers (1), Heat (1), and Thunder (1).

On Sunday, Game 1 of the Grizzlies/Spurs Western Conference Finals drew a 3.1 final rating and 4.9 million viewers on ABC — down 45% in ratings and 46% in viewership from Celtics/Heat Game 1 on ESPN last year (5.6, 9.0M), and down 28% and 30%, respectively, from Thunder/Mavericks Game 1 on ESPN in 2011 (4.3, 7.0M).

Compared to Game 1 of last year’s Thunder/Spurs WCF on TNT (4.8, 7.8M), ratings and viewership for Sunday’s game declined by 35% and 38%.

Grizzlies/Spurs Game 1 ranks as the lowest rated and least-viewed Conference Final opener on any network since Cavaliers/Pistons Game 1 on TNT in 2007 (2.7, 3.9M), and is tied as the lowest rated conference final game ever on broadcast television.

Ratings for Pacers/Heat Game 1 on TNT were 71% higher than for Grizzlies/Spurs (5.3 to 3.1) — the largest gap between conference final openers since 2004, when Lakers/Timberwolves Game 1 (4.5) outdrew Pistons/Pacers Game 1 (2.5) by 80%.

Ratings/Viewership For 2013 NBA Playoffs on ABC

Entering the NBA Finals
Date Time Game # Net Rating vs. ’12 Viewers (000) vs. ’12
Sat., 4/20/13 3:00 PM Celtics/Knicks Game 1 ABC
2.9
-6%
4.4M
-7%
Sun., 4/21/13 3:00 PM Lakers/Spurs Game 1 ABC
3.6
+9%
5.5M
+13%
Sun., 4/28/13 1:00 PM Knicks/Celtics Game 4 ABC
3.3
+18%
4.9M
+15%
3:30 PM Heat/Bucks Game 4 ABC
3.8
-16%
6.0M
-14%
Sun., 5/5/13 1:00 PM Grizzlies/Thunder Game 1 ABC
3.0
-6%
4.3M
-9%
3:30 PM Pacers/Knicks Game 1 ABC
3.9
-11%
6.0M
-15%
Sat., 5/11/13 8:15 PM Knicks/Pacers Game 3 ABC
3.5
5.3M
Sun., 5/12/13 3:30 PM Spurs/Warriors Game 4 ABC
3.4
-29%
5.3M
-30%
Sun., 5/19/13 3:30 PM Grizzlies/Spurs Game 1 ABC
3.1
4.9M

(Sunday’s numbers from ESPN)

  • Just Wondering

    Could it be because the NBA prefers to be in Mickey Mouse markets like Sacramento, San Antonio, Memphis, and Oklahoma City over Seattle, St. Louis, San Diego and Tampa?
    Hmmm…..

  • ChuckClair

    are the first two Finals games in Miami on June 6 & June 9?

    • Paulsen

      Yes, Games 1 and 2 of the NBA Finals will be in Miami or San Antonio on Thursday June 6 and Sunday June 9.

  • Morgan Wick

    More specific Grizzlies/Spurs numbers?

    • Paulsen

      4.854M.