Ratings Roundup: NBA Playoffs Ratings, Viewers Up Across the Board

The NBA continues to enjoy a ratings renaissance this season with huge year-to-year gains on TNT, ESPN, and ABC during the first round of the playoffs.

Through Tuesday, TNT’s playoff coverage delivered the most-watched and highest-rated postseason in cable-television history. TNT’s first 19 games of coverage have averaged a 2.7 U.S. HH Rating, (up 29% over 2.1 last year), 4.26 million total viewers (up 33% over 3.2 million last year), and 3.1 million households (up 29% over 2.4 million last year).

Through seven telecasts, ESPN is averaging 3.5 million viewers, a 23% increase over 2.9 million for the same number of telecasts last year.  ESPN’s 2.6 million household impressions are up 20% over last year’s 2.2 million, and the 2.6 rating is up 18% from the 2.2 rating in 2010.

Meanwhile, the playoffs have also impressed on the broadcast side, as ABC has averaged 5.8 million viewers through three postseason broadcasts, an increase of 27% over 4.6 million for the same time period last year. The trio of games has also averaged 4.2 million household impressions (up 22% over 3.5 million last year) and the 3.7 rating (up 23% over 3.0 last year).

In addition, ESPN has seen a massive jump in viewing on the digital front during the first round. ESPN3.com’s total minutes of consumption over the first round of the postseason has jumped 281% compared with the same time period last year. Additionally, Chicago Bulls-Indiana Pacers Game 1 registered the most unique views ever for an NBA game on ESPN3.com. ESPN.com and ESPN Mobile TV’s NBA sections have also logged traffic increases during the first round…

…On Tuesday, for the second time in five days, Comcast SportsNet Chicago posted its biggest night of ratings in network history. CSN Chicago’s coverage of Game 5 of the Bulls-Pacers NBA Playoffs series, Game 7 of the Blackhawks-Canucks Stanley Cup Playoffs series, and the White Sox’ game against the Yankees on CSN+ delivered a “combined” 25.62 household rating (897,366 Chicago TV households watching the three telecasts).  The previous single-night record was set just last week when live coverage of the Bulls, Blackhawks, and White Sox delivered a 25.30 combined rating. In addition, CSN Chicago was the most-watched network in the Chicago market during the eight-hour time period of 5:30 p.m.- 1:30 a.m., with an 8.43 household average.

The Blackhawks Game 7 OT loss posted a 13.33 rating, beating the previous all-time high set just last Sunday, April 24, for Game 6 of the series (12.45 household rating). The game attracted approximately 466,897 households for the entire length of the game and posted a massive 18.35 peak rating during the 9:45 p.m. quarter-hour (approximately 642,727 households). Compared with last year’s first-round playoff series vs. Nashville, Blackhawks first-round playoff ratings were up 47% overall.

The Bulls Game 5 series-clinching win logged a 10.93 game rating, which ranks second to last week’s (April 21) all-time highest-rated game — for any team — on the network with a 13.69 (Comcast SportsNet Chicago launched on Oct. 1, 2004). The game attracted approximately 382,834 households overall and posted a solid 14.20 peak rating during the 9:30 p.m. quarter-hour. Compared with last year’s first-round playoff series vs. Cleveland, the Bulls first-round playoff games were up 211% overall…

…Viewership for NASCAR’s Aaron’s 499 from Talladega was the highest in six years. Fox earned a 5.2 final rating and 9.039 million viewers for the April 17 NASCAR Sprint Cup Aaron’s 499, flat in ratings but up 7% in viewership from last year (5.2, 8.452 million). This marks the most-viewed edition of the Aaron’s 499 since 2005 (12.341 million). From 2006 to ’10, the race drew fewer than 9 million viewers each year.